The federal government today was exposed in Parliament for trying to hide from global scrutiny of climate damage to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, Australian Greens climate change spokesperson Senator Christine Milne said.
"By refusing to back a motion calling for the government to support the listing of the Great Barrier Reef as World Heritage 'in danger', the government signalled that it will not support the 'in danger' listing at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Paris later this year," Senator Milne said in Canberra.
"The Howard government has refused to take decisive action on climate change and the Great Barrier Reef is suffering accordingly, and now the government wants to hide from the scrutiny that such action has attracted.
"It's time the Howard government stopped just talking about climate change and took some global responsibility for its adverse consequences before we lose such globally significant icons as the Great Barrier Reef."
Senator Milne's motion was defeated in the Senate 34 votes to 29 late today. The text appears below.
Contact: Katrina Willis 02 6277 3063 or 0437 587 562
Motion moved by Senator Christine Milne
That the Senate:
a) Notes that the Federal Government's Climate Change Risk and Vulnerability Report states that:
i. both the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics are very sensitive to changes in temperature and that an increase of as little as 2°C could have devastating effects, and
ii. climate model projections suggest that within 40 years water temperatures could be above the survival limit of corals, and,
iii. the value and uniqueness of World Heritage listed areas are already established and these should be given prominence in adaptation research and planning.
b) Further notes that:
i. the World Heritage Committee considers that the Great Barrier Reef is one of many World Heritage sites that will become increasing affected by climate change other prime examples include the Kilimanjaro National Park, biosphere reserves such as the Cape Floral Region in South Africa and cultural sites such as the Venice Lagoon which is threatened by sea level rise,
ii. at the World Heritage Committee meeting of climate change experts at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on March 16th and 17th 2006, the Australian Government joined with the US in arguing against the Great Barrier Reef being listed as World Heritage in Danger because of climate change,
c) Calls on the Federal Government to support inclusion of the Great Barrier Reef on the World Heritage in Danger list because of climate change.