References to the Great Barrier Reef have been left out of a major United Nations report on world heritage sites impacted by climate change, the Climate Council said on Friday.
The report released overnight, profiles the impacts of climate change on major tourism sites such as the Statue of Liberty, Venice and the Stonehenge.
Climate Councillor professor Will Steffen said in a statement on Friday the allegations were extremely troubling, and the government must respond to them.
“Given Australia has probably done as much, or more, research than any other country on the impacts of climate change on World Heritage sites, and that the Great Barrier Reef has just undergone the worst coral bleaching event in its history, it beggars belief that Australia would not even rate a mention,” Steffen said.
“To argue that this is about tourism doesn’t make much sense. No other country requested sections to be removed from the report.”
Steffen had been invited to review a case study on the Great Barrier Reef for the report in question, however the section was given the axe at the last minute, during Australia’s Federal election campaign without explanation.
Authors of the report told the Guardian they were pressured by Australian government officials to remove any mention of Australia.
“Information is the currency of democracy, and the idea that government officials would exert pressure to censor scientific information on our greatest natural treasure is extremely disturbing,” Steffen explained.
“We can’t hide the impacts of climate change on our reefs.”
He noted the scientific evidence was clear and compelling when it came to climate change.
“Climate change is driving increasingly serious impacts across our society, and the only way we can deal with it is to rapidly and deeply reduce emissions from fossil fuel use, which is the root cause of climate change.” Endit