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15 July, 2021

The reef is in danger

FEDERAL Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley has flown to Europe as part of the Australian Government’s campaign to protect “Australia’s interests” and support Great Barrier Reef Communities and Tourism Operators ahead of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee (WHC) meeting to be hosted by China at the end of the month.

By John Pratt

The Australian Government claims to have been blind sided by the recent decision of the WHC to add the Great Barrier Reef to the WHC “in danger” list.

A UNESCO official Dr Fanny Douvere from the WHC rejected Sussan Ley’s claims that it had backflipped on a decision not to recommend the Great Barrier Reef for the world heritage “in danger” list. The WHC consists of 21 nations including Australia and is chaired by China. China and Australia have a vexed diplomatic relationship in recent times.

The question at the core of this ‘dispute’ is simple. “Is the Great Barrier Reef really in danger?”

On it’s website the Great Barrier Reef Foundation says “Two of the greatest challenges brought by climate change: an increase in ocean temperatures and acidity levels. These are creating severe knock-on effects, jeopardising the reef’s survival. Tropical sea surface temperatures have risen by 0.4-0.5C since the late 19th century, with rapid human induced climate change the greatest overall threat to the long-term future of the Great Barrier Reef.”

Distinguished Professor Terry Hughes former Director of the ARC Centre of Coral Reef Studies tweeted “In rejecting UNESCO’s advice the Morrison government is conveniently ignoring that much is based on technical and scientific reports produced by the Australian government.”

The Australian government continues to support fossil fuels and has recently opened up 80,000 square kilometres of ocean for new oil and gas.

Scientists have been telling governments for years that ninety nine percent of the world’s coral will die if the planet warms beyond 2 degrees.

We’re currently on track for over 3 degrees according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

To protect the Great Barrier Reef, we need less diplomacy and more climate action. 

Australia is coming last in the G20 when it comes to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. A recent court decision said Sussan Ley has a duty of care to Australian children and it’s time she listened to the scientists and the court.

Professor Terry Hughes also tweeted “Make no mistake - Australia’s #GreatBarrierReef “charm offensive” is climate-change denial in support of fossil fuels, and an attack on the integrity of UNESCO and IUCN. Other countries are aghast at these tactics.”

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