Reef vote looms
The Federal Government says it may have the numbers to stop the Great Barrier Reef being listed as ‘in danger’.
Australia has been lobbying hard to prevent the Great Barrier Reef from being added to the world heritage ‘in danger’ list.
It has secured support from at least nine of the 21-member committee that will make the decision, according to reports this week.
The oil-rich nations of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have backed Australia’s effort to preserve the image of the Reef.
The two nations are co-sponsoring amendments that call on the world heritage committee to push back a decision on the Reef until at least 2023.
Russia, Spain, Bahrain, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Ethiopia, Hungary, Mali, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Bosnia and Herzegovina are all rumoured to be supporting the bill too.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government’s official “reef envoy”, Warren Entsch, has claimed that the damage to the Reef is out of Australia’s control.
Mr Entsch has told reporters that warm water originating in the northern hemisphere flows across the Pacific to the Reef, where it becomes a chief cause of mass coral bleaching.
He also claimed that attempts to clean up water near the reef has actually left corals exposed to more sunlight, making bleaching worse.
Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a leader in coral bleaching science, said the idea that water is “specifically coming from the northern hemisphere to bleach our Great Barrier Reef” would be “pretty far-fetched.”
“The warmer than normal conditions that cause mass coral bleaching and mortality are driven primarily by global warming, which is due mostly to the burning of fossil fuels,” he told reporters.
At the same time, an international line-up of actors, conservationists and scientists, including Joanna Lumley and Hollywood star Jason Momoa, say the Great Barrier Reef should be placed on a list of world heritage sites in danger.
“There is still time to save the Great Barrier Reef, but Australia and the world must act now,” their statement says.
“We commend UNESCO for its leadership. We urge the world heritage committee to endorse UNESCO’s recommendation.”
A decision on the Reef is expected on Friday.