Australia’s richest think-tank, The Climate Institute, has been carefully following the model set by board member Clive Hamilton’s The Australia Institute. It feeds the media’s love of public opinion surveys, even targeting the current election media frenzy with polling in marginal seats on climate change. It produces attention-grabbing semi-gimmick research, like their latest report which calculates superannuation costs if action on climate change is delayed (a male of my age will be $1,165.46 a year worse off in retirement, it says with all the spurious precision of economic modelling). Despite Clive’s strict insistence on leisure, both his think-tanks take advantage of slow news weekends to release reports on Sundays.
Yet despite all this the Climate Institute’s profile seems modest. The superannuation report had a bit of media coverage, but nothing like the masses of publicity the Australia Institute can often pull, particularly in the Fairfax papers and on the ABC. The Climate Institute is a new think-tank, of course, and it will take time to build a reputation. But I doubt it will ever do as well as The Australia Institute.
The basic problem is summed up in its statement of purpose:
Established in late 2005, The Climate Institute has a five-year goal of raising public awareness and debate about the dangers to Australia of global warming and to motivate the country to take positive action.