By insisting that the Australian government prepare a report within 18months, to be reviewed by the Committee in 2017 UNESCO has clearly shown that the Great Barrier Reef is not fine and is not safe in Tony Abbott’s hands.
“UNESCO now joins a long line of scientists, banks, organisations and individuals who are deeply worried about the Reef’s health. The Australian government can’t talk about protecting the Reef while aggressively supporting the licensing of mega-mine and expansion of coal ports along the Great Barrier Reef coast,” said Shani Tager, Greenpeace Australia Reef campaigner.
UNESCO had been relentlessly lobbied by the Australian government, who has continued to insist that the Reef is fine despite the fact that 50% of its coral cover has been destroyed in the last thirty years. Eminent scientists and environmentalists have warned that the Reef is still in danger from numerous threats, including coal mine and port expansions and climate change.
“This decision has been described by some as a reprieve for the Reef. It is not a reprieve – it is a big, red flag from UNESCO. Preeminent Reef scientists have said we can either have coal expansion or a healthy Reef, but we can’t have both. The Australian people have made it clear they want Reef protection not more coal. UNESCO has now also sent a clear signal that the Abbott government must fully protect the Great Barrier Reef and that means a reprieve from coal expansion,” added Tager.
Greenpeace is calling on Tony Abbott to stop trying to prop up a dying coal industry that is killing the Great Barrier Reef and driving climate change; remove port expansion loopholes from the Reef 2050 plan; cancel the Carmichael mega-mine and the Abbot Point coal port expansion and instead invest in a sustainable energy industry that will provide secure jobs and a sustainable future for Queensland workers and the Reef.
In addition Greenpeace is calling on financial institutions who are considering investing in the Carmichael mega-mine and Abbot Point coal port expansion to recognise that they will be investing in the destruction of a World Heritage Area, the world’s largest living thing, and should cancel any further financial involvement in the projects.