The international community must save the Great Barrier Reef

English version (pour la version française c’est ICI)

In the next week, UNESCO’ delegates will meet in Germany to discuss the future of the Great Barrier Reef. Greenpeace is calling the international community to save the largest coral reef in the world.

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National Marine Park of the Great Barrier

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The future of the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef in the world, is threatened by a gigantic coal mine project in Australia. If it is realized, millions of tons of seabed will be dumped in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Hundreds of boats loaded with coal will sail above the Great Barrier Reef each year, increasing the risk of accidents and pollution. The consequences could be dramatic for a reef that has already greatly suffered from climate change in recent years… and keeps suffering.

However, it is not too late to act !

Greenpeace is calling for international mobilization on At the end of this month of June, UNESCO delegates will meet in Bonn, Germany for the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee. They will have to express an opinion on the “health” / welfare of the Great Barrier Reef. They already published a “draft report” to take their decision a few weeks ago. Maintain pressure during the next ten days is therefore crucial !

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Greenpeace supporters gathered in Sydney to lobby four major Australian banks against the mining project, the day after Valentine’s Day.

What are the environmental risks of such a project ? 

The Australian Government does not ensure the protection of the Great Barrier Reef, but the rest of the world can get there ”, states Jess Panegyres, Greenpeace policy advisor for the Australia-Pacific region.  The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage Site but the ongoing support of the Australian Government to the development of the mining industry and ports along the reef endangers it.”
The coal expansion as validated by Australia will lead to more traffic and dredging around the Great Barrier ReefSupport for fossil fuels also contributes to climate change. The threat is therefore doubled for the coral reef.
Greg Hunt, the Australian Environment Minister, acknowledged that without public pressure, the government would not have done anything to address the growing threats on this protected site.

A worldwide petition launched on Monday, 15th of June and already counting signatures from 175 countries requests UNESCO to maintain pressure on the Australian government, because they must do much more.

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Aerial view of the Whitsunday Islands

Official justifications not very convincing

Greenpeace believes that the Abbott government misleads the public and the UNESCO delegates on a range of issues related to the health of the Great Barrier Reef :

  • The Australian Environment Minister stated on television that only a “minimum quantity of waster” would be discharged into the Great Barrier Reef, while it is in fact one million cubic meters per year ;
  • Greg Hunt also claimed that“the UNESCO’s project decision reflects our concrete and decisive actions to protect the iconic Great Barrier Reef and our significant efforts to address all the concerns of the committee”,while in fact the UNESCO report  is concerned about the conclusions of the 2014 report on the future of the Great Barrier. According to these conclusions, the global perspective is bad, and that climate change, poor water quality and impacts of coastal development are serious threats, and regrets that the key species and ecosystem processes in the central and southern coastal areas have continued to get deteriorated due to the cumulative effects of these impacts ”
  • The 2050 plan for the Barrier defined by the Abbott government does not prevent the massive expansion of coal ports along the reef, which may permanently damage the “universal value” of the Barrier ;
  • The Abbott government claims that the water quality is improving and that the objectives in terms of cleaning the agricultural wastes are reached… However, a report written by the Auditor General of Queensland and published last week reveals that the objectives in terms of water quality are not met, that the results are very poor and that the future remains uncertain ;
  • The Australian government announced they would spend $ 2 billion for the Great Barrier Reef, including $ 200 million of additional funding. However, these resources will be stretched over a period of 10 years. They include pre-existing commitments of governments of Queensland and Australia, and a quarter of them – $ 500 million – is restricted to security measures on ships. Although maritime safety is important, this money can not be accounted for protection of the Great Barrier.

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Hay Point is located 40km south of the city of Mackay and is one of the most intensive points of mining traffics in Australia

Tony Abbott is obsessed with the expansion of coal and refuses to act against climate change. The Great Barrier Reef has nevertheless already suffered greatly, losing more than half of its coral in the last 30 years “concludes Jess Panegyres. The international community can preserve it and act now! The UNESCO meeting in one week should also go in this direction. More than ever, we ask the international community to raise its voice and make it heard and to require the Australian government that prefer the welfare of the Great Barrier to the expansion of coal”.

Commit now to protect the Great Barrier Reef with Greenpeace !

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The Barrier Reef has an exceptional and unique diversity

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