By Jim Hayes
United Nations officials have begun moves to put Australia’s Great Barrier Reef on the UNSCO list of “in danger” world heritage sites. Being on the list would pressure the Australian government to do much more to protect it. If this goes through, it will be the first time a world heritage site has been on the list because of the threat of global warming.
Environment minister Sussan Ley has hit out at the move. Along with foreign affairs minister Marise Payne, she has already been in contact with UNESCO’s director general Audrey Azouley, to convey Canberra’s response.
She said, the government would “strongly oppose” the listing, calling it a political move and insisted the United Nations is no place to deal with the problem of global warming.
Environment minister Sussan Ley
The call to list the reef comes after officials listened to the testimony of experts. Their conclusion? Without urgent action, the world’s biggest coral reef will die.
The major cause of global warming is known to be the use of fossil fuels. The sticking point for the Australian government is its ongoing and at all costs support for the fossil fuel industry. The bottom line is protection of the Great Barrier Reef is not the priority.
Another cause of damage to this unique ecosystem, is contamination by the high level of chemical fertiliser used in mainland agriculture. This could be resolved though the adoption of sustainable farming methods. A government reluctant to antagonise one of its most important support bases is not likely to much about this either.
The UNESCO report spells out that Australia must move to “accelerated action at all possible levels … to address the threat from climate change”.
“The plan requires stronger and clearer commitments, in particular towards urgently countering the effects of climate change, but also towards accelerating water quality improvement and land management measures,” says the report, referring to Australia’s existing inadequate and unmet targets.
Photo by David Doublet :view of a healthy part of the Great Barrier Reef
There is also a move to provide a monitoring mission to develop “corrective measures”.
A UNESCO listing would send a powerful message that the world is watching and expects a much better performance from Australia.
An Essential poll has just shown that Fifty six percent of respondents said they believe climate warming is the reality, caused by human activity, and that the Morrison government isn’t doing enough about it. Seventy three percent said they support the rise of renewable energy to replace the use of fossil fuels. Sixty-seven percent say Australia must follow the lead provided by other countries.
It is not the Australian population that is holding back. The government and its fossil fuel company backers are the problem.
The job of the Australian community is to make sure that their life becomes so difficult that their present course is no longer possible.