2017 public policy climate highlights

ANU Climate Change researchers are engaged with policymakers on climate at an international, national and state / territory level on an ongoing basis. Here are a few examples.

Leadership roles with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

  • Professor Mark Howden is Vice-Chair of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group 2
  • Professor Xuemei Bai was invited to participate at the IPCC WGIII workshop Expert Meeting on mitigation, sustainability and climate stabilization scenarios, which took place in Addis Ababa 26-28 April 2017.
  • Professor Xuemei Bai was appointed to the Science Steering Committee of the IPCC Cities and Climate Change Conference to be held in Edmonton, Canada during March 5-7. She led the development of the science vision of this conference proposal to the IPCC.
  • Professor Nerilie Abram is a Convening Lead Author on the IPCC Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere.

International Advisory Roles

In 2017, Professor Mark Howden has also been on the following advisory panels in Australia, Chile, the EU and Asia including:

Roundtable discussions with policy-makers

The former CCI organised and hosted 6 roundtable discussions, attended by 150 policy makers, researchers, NGOs and industry representatives. These included:  

  • Roundtable discussion on Climate & Security – co-hosted by CCI & Air Vice Marshal (Ret) John Blackburn - 20 July, 17 participants
  • ANU roundtable discussion on sea level rise and coastal climate adaptation with Adam Parris, Executive Director, Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay, New York City, - 12 Sept, 19 participants
  • Roundtable discussion with UK Climate Change envoy, Nick Bridge, co-hosted with the British High Commission - 16th October, 28 participants
  • Delivering on the Paris Agreement - success criteria for COP23 with Jacob Werksman, Principal Adviser to the European Union Directorate for Climate Action,  24 October – 28 participants
  • Dealing with uncertainty around climate change & international security with Dr Elizabeth Chalecki, University of Nebraska Omaha, held at Department of Defence - 10 Nov, 24 participants

Policy briefings

  • Professor Mark Howden briefed
  • The former CCI organised four targeted parliamentary briefings on sea level rise in September 2017.

Policy submissions

Both the former Climate Change Institute and individual researchers have made submissions to various parliamentary inquiries this year:

Review of Australia’s Climate Change Policies – May 2017 

Senate Inquiry on the Implications of Climate change for Australia’s National Security – August 2017

Both Professor Admiral Chris Barrie and Dr Amrita Malhi appeared as expert witnesses before the Australian Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee's Inquiry. Amrita made the case for a human security view of climate change and its impacts, and for Australia to scale up its commitment to an aid program that actively assists our neighbours - especially in the Pacific, and also in Asia - to adapt to impacts already being felt across the region.

Engagement with ACT Government

Honorary Professor Penny Sackett, Professor Frank Jotzo and Emeritus Professor Will Steffen are members of the ACT Climate Change Council. This year they have given advice, which was incorporated into the Discussion Paper on ACT’s Climate Strategy to a Net Zero Emissions Territory, released in Dec 2017.  Professor Will Steffen was also the primary author for the Council’s Climate Change 2016: a brief science update.

Policy engagement by research theme

Climate change in the Pacific

The former CCI worked with Stacy-Ann Robinson to develop a policy brief entitled “International financing for climate change adaptation in small island developing states”, which was sent to key decision-maker in Pacific climate affairs.

Climate and Water

Professor Quentin Grafton convened and signed the Geneva Actions on Human Water Security in Geneva on 7 July.  The Geneva Actions has 54 Founding Signatories from 22 different countries, including 1 UNESCO Chair in Water. Inspired by the Green Carbon Fund, the Founding Signatories call for the creation of a Global Human Water Security Fund equivalent to one cent per person per day or some $27 billion/year to provide additional investments in three water actions: secure basic human water needs; secure improvements in watersheds, streams, rivers and aquifers; secure improved water governance.

The future of water reform in the Murray-Darling Basin was in the spotlight in late 2017, with allegations of water theft by irrigators in New South Wales, and claims that the Basin Plan is being undermined by a lack of transparency and accountability. Associate Professor Jamie Pittock is a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and their report was released on 30 November 2017.

Sea level rise

The CCI initiated four targeted parliamentary briefing sessions with MPs across the political spectrum with Professor Mark Howden and Adam Parris, of the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay, New York City.

Climate and health

The Climate and Health Alliance, led by their President Dr Liz Hanna, launched a collaboratively developed Framework for a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being for Australia at Parliament House on 22 June.

The launch of the document secured tri-partisan support, with the event co-hosted by Commonwealth Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, Shadow Minister for Health, Catherine King, and Australian Greens Leader, Senator Richard Di Natale. The ALP have since announced that they will develop and implement a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being for Australia, based on the Framework.

Carbon Accounting

Professor Michael Hutchinson and Dr Tingbao Xu have provided spatially distributed climate and forest productivity data to the Department of Environment and Energy to support their Carbon accounting for the National Inventory System.   

Climate and Forests

A major ecosystem service provided by native forests is the storage and sequestration of carbon. A study of ecosystem accounts in the Central Highlands of Victoria co-authored by Dr Heather Keith and Professor David Lindenmayer showed that managing the forests for carbon as a climate change mitigation activity had a greater economic value, as well as environmental benefit, compared with continuing native timber harvesting.

Results from the study are being used to inform policy about forest management as part of the negotiation of the Regional Forest Agreement. We have provided briefings to the Victorian Forestry Taskforce; the Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, The Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio MP; the Shadow Minister; and the Commonwealth Department of Energy and Environment. The project is being used internationally as a case study of ecosystem accounting in the development of the United Nations System of Environmental Economic Accounting Experimental Ecosystem Accounts. Public communication includes and ANU media release, radio interviews on ABC Radio National, News Canberra and Melbourne Community Radio, and two short videos are available on the web.

Climate and Fire

Dr Marta Yebra has engaged with policy makers throughout the year, notably presenting to the Australian Flammability Monitoring System for the AFAC Predictive Service working group as they are interested in using the system for the new National Fire Danger Rating Site and via the Bushfire and Natural Hazard CRC at their Research Driving Change – Showcase 2017. She will be a Panellist at the Parliamentary Friends of Science (PFoS) event on Wildfires, Wet and Wind in April 2017.


Here are some examples of outreach by individual climate change researchers:

Professor Mark Howden has given presentations at the following events:

  • National and international policy and governance
    • Subsidiary body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) Climate Adaptation Workshop
    • Chifley Symposium on climate policy
    • Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Climate Conference keynote
    • Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARES) conference
    • IPCC Suva Outreach Event
    • Science-Policy workshop Aspen
    • Parliament of Australia symposium
    • Walter-Roberts Orr lecture at the American Meteorological Society
    • DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) Civil Society Network
    • ACT Landcare conference
  • Industry
  • Community and NGO
    • Australian Veterinary Associations National Conference
    • Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering Climate Change Conference 2016
    • Farmers for climate action conference
    • Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum
    • Australian Rangelands Conference
    • Peter Cullen Trust
    • SA Urban Food Symposium
    • Climate Change and NE Victoria forum
  • Academic
    • University of Melbourne Adaptation Frameworks symposium
    • Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Climate Smart Workshop
    • Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform meeting
    • Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Science Meeting
    • Santiago Transformation Symposium
    • International Climate Change Conference 2017 Hong Kong
    • Policy analytics symposium

Dr Bec Colvin participated as a panellist for an EnergyLab discussion on the opportunities of community energy. She also spoke with 350.org on the social psychology of conflict about climate and environment issues and presented a webinar on the social impacts of energy development with the Energy Impacts Research Coordination network.

Dr Bec Colvin delivered a lesson on the greenhouse effect to students at Garran Primary School.

Dr Bec Colvin was awarded a fellowship to present at the Energy Impacts Symposium in Columbus, Ohio, to share findings on the impact of consultation with communities around energy developments.

Dr Marta Yebra was invited discussion panel member for the practitioner’s workshop on the use of Surrogates and Indicators in Ecological Monitoring. Australian Botanic Gardens. Canberra. August 2017, the "Future Earth". National Science Week, Canberra. August 2017. She was also the invited speaker at Australian National Data Service (ANDS) geospatial tech talk, Canberra. 4th August 2017.

Professor Sharon Friel presented and gave an interview on climate change and health at the Global Ideas Forum.

Cobi Smith was a panellist for the Adelaide premiere of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, in August.

This year two ANU climate PhD scientists, Alena Kimbrough and Bethany Ellis  participated in Shirty Science in collaboration with local artists. They explained their research to the artist and together created a shirt that represents an aspect of climate research.

Dr Jonathan Pickering presented to the Australian-German Climate and Energy College, University of Melbourne on : ‘US retreat from the Paris Agreement: Kyoto revisited?’ on 28th September.

Updated:  9 April 2021/Responsible Officer:  College of Science/Page Contact:  https://iceds.anu.edu.au/contact