Government Cuts Funding for The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility

Spotlight Activity: Government Cuts Funding for The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility

NCCARF is an offshoot of Australia’s national science organisation (CSIRO). For ten years NCCARF has been the only research body in Australia dedicated to studying climate change adaptation, working tirelessly to translate the best available data into real-world strategies and practical advice for dealing with the likely impacts of climate change. NCCARF research is highly regarded and used extensively by climate advocacy groups all over Australia. It has informed business and policy decision making at the highest level.

The facility has also developed a number of toolkits communities are able to use to assess the likely impacts of climate change at a local level. A great example is CoastAdapt, a free online platform that gives coastal communities the most up to date predictions for sea level rise (& in-depth case studies for helpful comparison) then links them to the wider adaptation community and suggests valuable strategies for adapting to the effects of sea level rise. Local authorities from all over Australia – from Darwin in the far north to Inverloch on the south east coast – have worked with NCCARF to develop and then use CoastAdapt to inform their decision making. Attending the official launch of CoastAdapt in early 2017, Minister for the Environment Josh Frydenberg lauded its success and recognised the importance of managing the risks of sea level rise in a climate change-affected future, especially since half of all Australians live within 7km of the coastline.

Problem is, as of July 1 2018 NCCARF no longer exists as a government-funded research body. After starting with a budget of AUD$50 million in 2008, NCCARF has had to function the last financial year on just $600,000. Its budget is now zero dollars. There is no indication from the current government that funding will ever be restarted. There is also no mention of how NCCARF would be absorbed into the larger national science organisation, what will happen to its staff or whether its current research projects will be continued.

Status: Falling Behind

In 2014 an Australian government review of climate change adaptation described the lack of clear governance and policy direction as a significant barrier to adapting to climate change. Last year the World Economic Forum warned that failure to adapt and mitigate climate change was one of the five biggest risks the world currently faces. Local authorities, professionals and community groups have been consistently calling on the Australian government for more policy guidance on how best to adapt to climate risks for years. Australia had one government body dedicated to adaptation research and has decided to discontinue its work indefinitely.

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