One Nation senator takes aim at BoM over climate change data

The head of Australia's weather agency has fended off questions from One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts suggesting the bureau changed data to fit a climate change narrative.

Senator Malcolm Roberts has accused the Bureau of Meteorology of promoting a climate change narrative during his questioning of the weather agency’s director as part of Senate estimates.

The senator has long pushed back at scientific evidence promoting the role of fossil fuel emissions in causing climate change and alarmism over its impact.

But on Monday in estimates, he pointed to a graph which he says can no longer be accessed on the Bureau of Meteorology's website.

One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts.
Source: AAP

He said this had outlined the number of "very hot days" from 1920 to 2015, suggesting the bureau had removed the graph because it didn't fit a climate change narrative.

"This graph goes against the narrative of the climate extremists and it was removed," the Queensland senator said.

“It can no longer be accessed.

"Was it removed because it goes against the narrative or was it removed because there was an error?"

CEO and Director of Meteorology at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology Dr Andrew Johnson.
Source: AAP

BOM's CEO Dr Andrew Johnson said he had not seen the graph referenced, but rejected the idea the weather agency would adopt any such narrative.

"Firstly, I reject the premise of your overarching question," he said.

"The Bureau of Meteorology simply reports on the data which it observes.

"Integrity of our data is of the highest order and I stand absolutely, 100 per cent behind it."

The senator repeatedly pressed Dr Johnson on questions relating to the graph, which he said would be taken on notice.

“How can we make solid policy if data is being removed that contradicts the narrative?” Senator Roberts asked.

“Again I reject the premise of your question Senator,” Mr Johnson said.

The Senate Estimates hearing also saw Senator Sarah Hanson-Young question Department of Environment and Energy officials over Australia’s response to climate change.

Senator Hanson-Young asked if the federal government had been briefed over the state of 'the climate emergency’.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
Source: AAP

Climate Change and Energy Innovation deputy secretary Jo Evans replied the department did not use such language to describe the changing climate.

“I am not using the word emergency, you are,” she said.

“Your choice of language about how you describe that is yours and we would stick to a factual description.

“[But] we regularly brief the government about the facts of climate science … and the nature of the impacts both for Australia and globally.”

Senator Hanson-Young pressed the department official on whether the climate was getting worse.

“That's a judgement call and it’s an opinion,” Ms Evans said.

“The scientific evidence is that the climate is definitely changing.

“It is changing in a direction that implies that temperatures are increasing … it implies that a range of climatic events that had certain probability levels in the past are likely to get higher in the future.”

Ms Evans said Australia had "already seen" average temperatures increase by around one degree, sea levels rising, and more extreme weather events.

She described Australia’s emissions reduction target as ‘quite ambitious’ within the context of global action in the Paris agreement.

Australia has committed to reducing emissions by 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030, as part of the worldwide climate response. It is responsible for around 1.3 per cent of global carbon emissions. 

With AAP

Published 21 October 2019 at 3:52pm, updated 21 October 2019 at 7:39pm
By Tom Stayner