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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Victory or Defeat?

Today's newspaper headlines from around Australia are reporting the pending demise of ~300 workers within the federal Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE), which represents approximately 30% of the department's workforce. The cuts are part of a broader contraction of the civil service intended to squeeze a surplus out of next year's federal budget. While the cuts appear to largely target DCCEE's energy and safety programs divisions, the lean budget will likely have implications for investments in adaptation as well. For example, the contract for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (which is funded through DCCEE) is due to expire in 2013, and from what I'm hearing, no one expects that contract to be renewed. Direct spending by DCCEE on adaptation programs is also expected to decline.

As Dorothea Mackeller wrote, Australia is the land "of droughts and flooding rains." This seems to apply to the nation's science policy as well. Since 2005, Australia has invested heavily in adaptation research and practice, with other nations (particularly the United States) looking on hoping to learn from the Land Down Under. Now that flood looks poised to turn to drought. Is Australia's leadership position on this issue fading, or has the awareness and capacity of the nations' organizations been sufficiently developed such that they're now capable of helping themselves?

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