United Nations (UN) has published a report about the impact of climate change on dozens of World Heritage sites and it is stipulated that a chapter which highlighted the damage to the Great Barrier Reef has been omitted after the intervention of Australian government.
The Australian government fears the report will have a negative impact on Australia’s thriving tourism sector. The Department of the Environment said “experience had shown that negative comments about the status of World Heritage-listed properties impacted on tourism”. The statement further added that they were against including any of the country’s World Heritage-listed properties being included in “such a publication.’’
The lead author of the UN report Adam Markham,deputy director of climate and energy programs at the Union of Concerned Scientists was surprised by the request. He said that “Pretty much everyone in the world knows there is a problem on the Great Barrier Reef”.
He stated that he believed that the report will focus the attention of the countries in saving the heritage sites degrading due to changing sea levels, temperatures rise, and extreme weather.
The chapter removed from the report, now available on the website of the Union of Concerned Scientists, had warned that Australia is the world’s fourth-largest coal producer and that risks come with plans to expand coal mining and shipping near the reef.
The omission of the chapter from the report has been condemned by various scientists in Australia. According to Prof. Will Steffen of the Climate Change Institute at Australian National University, “Australia is the only inhabited continent that is not featured in the report….Information is the currency of democracy, and the idea that government officials would exert pressure to censor scientific information on our greatest national treasure is extremely disturbing”.
Scientists presume that climate change and coral bleaching is a major threat to the reef and it should be addressed on national level rather than the govt. sweeping the issue under a rug.