Job cuts at the CSIRO will leave Australia ill-prepared to deal with climate change or meet its commitments under the Paris agreement, the Climate Council says.
The CSIRO recently announced it would halve the number of employees in climate science, with around 100 jobs to go from two main monitoring and modelling programs.
The council has looked into the local and international impact the change will have.
Its report, Flying Blind: Navigating Climate Change without the CSIRO, released on Monday, found the cuts would damage the country’s ability to plan for or respond to climate change.
It warns that government and businesses rely on climate change science to make billion-dollar decisions which could be put in jeopardy.
“For example, the design of Brisbane Airport’s new runway, built on a low-lying coastal fringe, was informed by the latest sea-level science from the CSIRO,” it says.
Crucial information about climate change in the Southern Hemisphere could be lost and farmers and firefighters will be particularly exposed if climate science capabilities are reduced.
“Cutting climate science now, as the demand escalates for both adaptation and mitigation strategies, is like flying into a violent storm and ripping out the radar, navigation and communication instruments. It just doesn’t make sense,” Professor Will Steffen said.
If the cuts go ahead the country will also have reneged on a key promise from the Paris climate agreement to strengthen climate science.
CSIRO boss Larry Marshall recently told a Senate committee the restructure decision emerged after consultation within the agency and would meet the body’s innovation strategy.