Climate Council logo
|Purpose||Science based climate change information|
|Tim Flannery, Will Steffen, Gerry Hueston|
The Climate Council is an Australian independent non-profit organisation formed to provide Australians with clear, easy to understand facts on climate change. It was formed by former members of the Climate Commission after it was abolished by the government. It is funded by donations from the public.
The Australian Government, under the ruling Labor Party, formed the Australian Climate Commission in February 2011 to act as an independent advisory group to report on the science of climate change. Following the Australian Federal Election in September 2013, the Labor Party lost power to the Liberal/National coalition with Tony Abbott installed as Prime Minister of Australia. Abbott is a self-proclaimed skeptic on climate change and, on 19 September 2013, he instructed his ministers to disband the Climate Commission. Among the reasons for closing the Commission were to "streamline government processes and avoid duplication of services" and save the A$1.6 million per year spent in operating the Commission. Responsibility for advising the government on climate change was consolidated under the Bureau of Meteorology.
Following the announcement that the Climate Commission was to be wound up, there was a large public movement calling for its immediate reinstatement. This began on social media but transitioned to include an online petition on not-for-profit advocacy site CommunityRun by Cameron Neil.
Following the success of the online petition, former chief commissioner of the Climate Commission, Tim Flannery announced on 23 September 2013 that a Non-Profit-Organisation, the Climate Council, would be set up. The founders of the Climate Council were all former commissioners of the disbanded Climate Commission, including Flannery, Veena Sahajwalla, Lesley Hughes, Will Steffen and Gerry Hueston. In a YouTube video released on 24 September, Flannery revealed that the Council members were working pro bono. Flannery had previously been criticised for his $180,000 a year salary from the old Climate Commission.
The startup funding for the Council was raised through crowdfunding, with donations opening at midnight on 23 September, and the first donation being only $15. By mid-afternoon on Tuesday 24 September $165,000 had been donated, and by the end of that day $218,000 had been given by 7,200 members of the public. Flannery told The Conversation on the Tuesday that the Council intended to raise $500,000 by the end of that first week. In fact, by Friday of the first week, in a stronger than expected response, over 20,000 people had donated amounts totalling close to $1 million.
The use of crowdfunding has been criticised as being unsustainable, and Philanthropy Australia implored the Council to seek ongoing funding from one or two major donors. This would, however, open the group up to questioning of its independence as funds will be sourced from larger donors and potentially compromise the Council's apolitical position. Flannery has accepted this difficulty, conceding that "no one has really done this before" and that the "common resolve [of the Council] is that the second that anyone asks us to do anything or say anything they will get their money back. Independence is central to our credibility. We shall see as we go along what mechanisms are required".
Tim Flannery is frequently cited as having stated that: "Our independence is central to our credibility, so if people do donate, don't try to influence what we do". This is the most controversial aspect of the newly formed organisation, a point alluded to by Flannery on countless occasions. In just one example of how poorly this is understood by supporters, Mark Wootton of the Climate Institute, speaking in support of the Climate Council, cited the need for an organisation to "hold account perhaps the government at times". Yet Flannery has denied any intention to campaign, saying: "We won't be running any political campaigns, we won't be running any agendas."  From time to time the organisation strays from this claimed independence. In one example issuing a demonstration of support for a divestment program by the Australian National University. 
- Kenny, Chris (2013-09-19). "Coalition delivers on promise to axe Climate Commission". The Australian (Nationwide News Pty Limited). Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- "Australia's New Conservative Prime Minister Abolishes Climate Change Watchdog". Business Insider Australia (AFP). 2013-09-19. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- Arup, Tom (2013-09-19). "Abbott shuts down Climate Commission". The Age Federal Politics: Political News. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- "Climate Commission to defy Abbott". Sky News.com.au: On Air. Australian News Channel Pty Ltd. 2013-09-24. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- "We've Done It! Your 'Citizen-Funded Climate Commission' = the new Climate Council.". Communityrun: Petitions. GetUp Limited. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- ClimateCouncil (2013-09-24). "An Update from the Climate Council". YouTube. YouTube. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- Nadin, Mitchell (2013-09-24). "Axed Climate Commission to continue as community-funded body". The Australian (Nationwide News Pty Limited). Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- Perry, Nick; Benny-Morrison, Ava (2013-09-24). "Support for climate council takes off". The Australian (Nationwide News Pty Limited). Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- Griffiths, Emma (2013-09-24). "Flannery says new Climate Council will 'fiercely guard' its independence". ABC.net.au (ABC). Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- "Loved by the crowd, but will the new Climate Council be truly independent?". The Conversation (The Conversation Media Group). 2013-09-24. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- a staff reporter (2013-09-27). "Climate Council donations 'nearing $1 million'". Climate Spectator (Business Spectator Pty Ltd.). Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- Hall, Ashley (2013-09-24). "Climate Commission relaunched as not for profit". ABCNews. ABC. Retrieved 2013-10-24.