May 28, 2015

Investors Beware – UNESCO Decision Means Reef Still at Threat, Galilee Coal as Risky as Ever

BRISBANE, 29th MAY: Despite heavy lobbying from the coal industry and Australian Government — UNESCO, the body charged with protecting World Heritage sites, has today indicated that Australia’s management of the Heritage-Listed Great Barrier Reef will continue to be under the global spotlight, noting with concern that climate change is a major threat.

The Reef remains at risk from plans to unlock massive coal mines in the Galilee Basin to export through major new coal ports on the reef, such as the controversial Abbot Point expansion.

“The coal lobby and the Federal Government have run a concerted campaign to get UNESCO to ignore the Reef’s ill health so that they can continue with their disastrous coal expansion plans. Despite this, UNESCO will still keep a close watch on the Reef, said Moira Williams, from Australia.

“As the ocean warms and acidifies, the Great Barrier Reef is in enough trouble already–all it needs is a huge port expansion and an endless parade of coal ships. (Which happen to be carrying more coal to make the water hotter and more acid. Lather, rinse, repeat), commented Bill McKibben, Co-Founder.

Australia’s leading coral reef experts recently called for the scrapping of Adani’s mining and port expansion projects because they will be a death knell for the Reef.

“UNESCO’s continued concern for the reef is yet another sign that Australian banks must rule out funding this project” Kirsty Albion National Director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition said.

“Investors looking to finance these massive coal expansions should beware. UNESCO and the world is watching you. 11 global banks have already said no to these projects as they don’t want their brand tied up with a project that will cook the climate and wreck the reef” Ms Albion said.

“Thousands of Australians have already moved millions of their dollars out of the Banks in protest over this project. We urge all banks to rule out funding coal ports on our Great Barrier Reef. You can have coal or the Reef – you can’t have both, concluded Williams.

The Great Barrier Reef has lost 50% of its coral cover over the last 30 years, in large part due to climate change. Its rapid deterioration is one of the most visual demonstrations of the growing severity of the problem, and a warning sign that carbon-intensive fossil fuels must remain in the ground. UNESCO’s final decision on the state of the Reef will be handed down at the end of next month.

Media Enquiries:

Charlie Wood | Australia | 0427 485 233

Daniel Spencer | Australian Youth Climate Coalition | 0423 865 632