By Sean Campbell @Sean eamonn campbell
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR) World Heritage listing has been splashed across the international press for all the wrong reasons, putting Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the firing line for his approach regarding climate change, mining approvals and fossil fuels.
The Australian Government has been requested to submit an updated report to the World Heritage Committee on the prevention measures in place to protect the GBR and the execution of them, by Feb 2022.
Climate change is having a devastating effect on the reef, with added pressure from the Australian government approved growth of the mining infrastructure, and shipping lanes in Northern Queensland, the GBR water pollution problem is continuing to be a significant concern for the heritage committee.
“ The Great Barrier reefs have gone from Poor to Very Poor condition in recent years,” the United Nations committee said. “Progress has been largely insufficient in meeting the key 2025 targets of the Reef’s 2050 plan.”
“Morrison’s government has no credible plan for climate change, no climate target and will continue to promote mining coal, oil and gas,” said Mr Ritter.
Under the world heritage convention, he said “the Australian government promised the world it would do its utmost to protect the reef – instead, it has done its utmost to hide the truth” . And the Morrison government has abandoned its obligations. UNESCO and its advisors “dwelled on the fact the criteria to place the reef on the “endangered” list have clearly been met.
Dr Fanny Douvere, head of the marine program at UNESCO, said the committee had acknowledged the reef was in danger from climate change. “The facts are the facts and the science is the science. The committee supported the science but did not support the ‘endangered’ listing,” said Dr Douvere.
UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, a United Nations committee in place to protect and save world heritage sites for future generations,
But sadly, a single decision similar to the recent Carmichael Coal Mine Queensland development application could put pressure on a heritage site, causing a site to be removed altogether from the World Heritage List.
“If a site loses the characteristics which determined its inscription on the World Heritage Listing, the World Heritage Committee may decide to delete the property from both the List of World Heritage in Danger and the World Heritage List,” reported the World Heritage Center.
To date, the World Heritage Convention has been applied twice due to government decisions to support industrial or urban growth such as Oman’s Arabian Oryx Sanctuary being replaced now by hydrocarbon prospecting and the United Kingdom’s Liverpool City waterfront site, which was taken off the list in early 2021 when Everton built a $500m Football Stadium.
The decisions that led to these sites being removed from the heritage list came from politicians. Politicians we, as a global nation, rely on to protect our heritage.
If the Australia Government doesn’t change how they think about the mining sector and slow down the approval rate in Northern Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef will surely be on track to being removed from the World Heritage list like the examples above.
The implication of such an event will be dire for the Great Barrier Reef, its local communities and the billion-dollar tourism industry that surrounds them.
Can Australia afford to lose the true beauty that is The Great Barrier Reef?
Featured image: A priceless piece of top-end adventure. Photo: WikiTravel/CC