The Australian Government resorted to extraordinary “Soviet style” tactics to dodge international scrutiny for the climate impacts threatening its World Heritage Areas including the Great Barrier Reef.
The Australian government pressured UNESCO to remove mentions of the site in the final version of a major new report entitled, “World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate”.
The report had a key chapter on the reef, as well as sections on Kakadu and Tasmania’s forests, all of which were scrubbed after objections from the Environment Department, which claimed that the truth about climate impacts could damage tourism revenue.
Australia is the only government to have made such an objection, but given 93 per cent of the reef has been hit by coral bleaching this year the time for pretending it is seriously acting to protect natural treasures from climate change is long gone.
- No tourists will visit a dead reef. Instead of listening to the multiple warning signs and putting in place a strong plan to protect the Great Barrier Reef by phasing out coal burning and exports, the Australian Government is instead censoring the truth. The only way to protecting tourist dollars in both the short and long term is to take strong and visible action on climate change that does justice to the scientific community’s warnings.
- It’s coal or coral. Not both. The Coalition Government is big on rhetoric but small on action. It has no credible plan to protect the reef or the climate, and by scrubbing a document that identifies an embarrassing challenges that can be overcome, it is only further drawing attention to its inadequate plan for the future of Australia’s natural treasures, and the economic risks failing to act creates.
- Transitioning to renewables has massive benefits for Australia – not least of which is protecting the multi billion dollar tourism industry. Great Barrier Reef tourism is worth $5.4 billion to the economy and almost 70,000 jobs. Transitioning to 100% renewable energy won’t just help protect those tourism dollars, it will create clean affordable energy and homegrown jobs across the nation.