Posted on behalf of James Mitchell Crow.
Leading climate scientists in Australia are being subjected to an escalating campaign of death threats and abusive phone calls, as the country’s government edges closer to introducing a price on carbon.
A number of Australia’s highest profile climate scientists have been moved into secure buildings following the recent spate of threats, including at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, as well as other universities in New South Wales and Queensland. Some economists and policy experts have also been relocated after being targeted.
ANU vice-chancellor Professor Ian Young told ABC News that the situation has worsened significantly in recent weeks. “Obviously climate research is an emotive issue at the present time,” he said. "These are issues where we should have a logical public debate and it’s completely intolerable that people be subjected to this sort of abuse and to threats like this.”
Scientists targeted include Will Steffen, director of ANU’s climate change institute. Two weeks ago, the government’s Climate Commission published a report authored by Steffen entitled The Critical Decade. The report concluded that the evidence for climate change is only getting stronger, and that global sea levels could rise by as much as a metre by the end of the century.
The campaign of threats comes as Australia’s minority Labor government, in power with the support of a handful of Green and independent MPs, attempts to introduce a two-stage plan for establishing a price on carbon (see ‘Australia’s ‘rainbow coalition’ focuses on climate’) . An initial fixed price mechanism for three to five years will be followed by an emissions trading scheme, under current proposals. If the legislation is passed, the carbon price will come into force on 1 July 2012.
Since this policy was announced by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on 25 February this year, rallies have taken place around the country protesting the “carbon tax”. However, this weekend thousands took to the streets in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth in support of carbon pricing.