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 independent, authoritative climate change information to the Australian public. It was formed by former members of the Climate Commission after it was abolished by the Australian federal government. It is funded by donations from the public.
The Australian Government, under the ruling Labor Party, formed the 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. On 19 September 2013, Abbott 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 launched. 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. Andrew Stock later joined as the sixth Climate Councillor.
The startup funding for the Council was raised through crowdfunding, with donations opening at midnight on 23 September, and the first donation being $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 organisation up to questioning of its independence as funds sourced from larger donors could 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. 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."  During 2018 the choice of language and the naming of the Federal government in terms of its recalcitrance on climate indicated a move away from this claimed apolitical agenda. 
- Kenny, Chris (19 September 2013). "Coalition delivers on promise to axe Climate Commission". National Affairs. The Australian. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- "Australia's New Conservative Prime Minister Abolishes Climate Change Watchdog". Business Insider Australia. AFP. 19 September 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- Arup, Tom (19 September 2013). "Abbott shuts down Climate Commission". The Age Federal Politics: Political News. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- "Climate Commission to defy Abbott". Sky News.com.au: On Air. Australian News Channel Pty Ltd. 24 September 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- "We've Done It! Your 'Citizen-Funded Climate Commission' = the new Climate Council". Communityrun: Petitions. GetUp Limited. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- Perry, Nick; Benny-Morrison, Ava (24 September 2013). "Support for climate council takes off". News. The Australian. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- Griffiths, Emma (24 September 2013). "Flannery says new Climate Council will 'fiercely guard' its independence". News. ABC. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- "Loved by the crowd, but will the new Climate Council be truly independent?". Environment + Energy. The Conversation. 24 September 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- "Climate Council donations 'nearing $1 million'". Climate: Policy & Politics. Climate Spectator. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- Hall, Ashley (24 September 2013). "Climate Commission relaunched as not for profit". ABCNews. ABC. Retrieved 24 October 2013.