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Thursday, 24 November 2011
Page: 13883

Clean Energy Future Plan

(Question No. 504)

Mr Baldwin asked the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, in writing, on 17 August 2011:

In respect of a statement he made that the Clean Energy Plan is needed to 'save the Great Barrier Reef', was the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report the sole factor in his decision to introduce the Clean Energy Plan to save the Great Barrier Reef; if so, (a) which part; (b) what peer reviews support the evidence in the report (including citations and authors); and (c) what dissenting reports are annexed to the report (including citations and authors); if not, will he provide a list of references for the scientific evidence on which his decision to introduce the Clean Energy Plan to save the Great Barrier Reef was based, including any peer reviews and dissenting reports (with citations and authors).

Mr Combet: The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The Government draws on a range of reliable, peer reviewed research in developing climate change policies such as the Clean Energy Future Plan. Reliable information sources include the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology in Australia, Academies of Science around the world, the World Meteorological Organization and other peer reviewed literature.

The role of the IPCC is to advise policy makers about the current state of knowledge and provide reliable information pertaining to climate change. The IPCC does not conduct scientific research itself, but instead reviews the thousands of scientific papers on climate change published in the peer reviewed literature every year. The state of knowledge on climate change is summarised in the IPCC's assessment reports, published approximately every six to seven years. The reports are subject to an intense peer review process involving hundreds of scientific experts and government reviewers. This unprecedented level of peer and government review makes this compendium of climate change science one of the most scrutinised documents in the history of science.

The IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007 is a key information source for the Government in developing climate change policies. Twenty-four Australian authors contributed to all three Working Group reports of the Fourth Assessment Report (Working Group 1: The Physical Science Basis; Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability; and Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change). Chapter 11 of the Fourth Assessment Report highlights many of the potential impacts from climate change in the Australian and New Zealand region. Currently, the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report is being written and is due for publication in 2013-14.

The Government also draws on the body of peer reviewed work that has been completed since the Fourth Assessment Report was published. Key reports include The Copenhagen Diagnosis, 2009: Updating the World on the Latest Climate Science; Climate Change: a Summary of the Science published by the UK Royal Society in 2010; Advancing the Science of Climate Change published by the US National Academies of Science; and The Critical Decade: Climate Science, Risks and Responses published by the Climate Commission in 2011.

Other sources of information, particularly on the Great Barrier Reef, include research conducted through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the Global Change Institute, University of Queensland.