Saturday 31st of July 2021

the minister is wet behind the ears...




















 A senior Unesco official has rejected the Australian government’s claims it bowed to political pressure when deciding to recommend the Great Barrier Reef be placed on the world heritage “in danger” list.


Dr Fanny Douvere, of Unesco’s World Heritage Centre in Paris, also rejected a suggestion from the Australian environment minister, Sussan Ley, that the UN body had told the government a week ago it would not be recommending the listing.


Douvere said the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) had not provided – either formally or informally – any assurances to Australia before the decision was announced early on Tuesday.

“We don’t share [decisions] before they are finalised,” she told Guardian Australia. “That’s the simple truth.”

On Tuesday, Ley accused Unesco of a “complete subversion of normal process” and said the government would fight the recommendation, which is due to go before the World Heritage Committee next month.

“This decision was flawed and clearly there was politics behind it … for the World Heritage Committee not to foreshadow this listing is appalling,” Ley said.

Ley claimed her officials were “blindsided” by the announcement and had been assured only a week ago that the reef would not be slated for the “in danger” list.

Ley and the foreign minister, Marise Payne, called the Unesco director general, Audrey Azoulay, to make it “clear that we will contest this flawed approach,” the environment minister said.

Douvere, who leads the marine program at the centre, rejected outright that Unesco would have offered any indication of its decision that would have led the Australian government to be surprised or blindsided, as was claimed.

“No. There was no such recommendations made at any point,” she said from Paris.

“There is no doubt, based on the scientific information, that the Great Barrier Reef is in danger and it is important that the international community is aware of that. There is no process or procedure that requires us to share the content [of reports].”


Ley’s accusation that political pressure had been placed on Unesco to come to a decision, which in some media was said to be coming from China, was “not correct, at all,” Douvere said.

“There is absolutely zero influence. This is simply not the truth. There is no interference at all. Unesco have absolutely no interest in doing this. We stand for helping state parties to raise awareness and make sure these sites are protected for future generations.”

She said the Chinese government was “not aware” of the recommendations being made.

Douvere said it would be up to the 21-member world heritage committee – which includes Australia and is currently chaired by China – to make the final decision based on Unesco’s recommendation.

The “in danger” recommendation was made on science-based reports from Australia, including from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and official government reports on water quality, the senior Unesco official said.

“This decision is not a surprise to anyone. We have been working constructively [with Australia] for a decade. There has been bleaching in 2016, 2017 and 2020.


“All the information points in the same direction, that the reef is deteriorating and the outlook has gone from poor to very poor.”

Douvere also rejected suggestions from Ley that the reef had been “singled out”. She said the process to assess the reef in time for the upcoming meeting of the World Heritage Committee in July had begun years ago.

“We followed the procedure here and looked at the state of conservation [of the reef]. It is such that climate change is the critical impact. Unesco’s mandate is to look at the facts.”

She said it was up to Australia and all other members of the world heritage convention to increase efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“The world as whole needs to step up action on climate change,” she said.

“It is very clear that climate change is the overarching threat to the reef and we are very aware that Australia alone can’t save the Great Barrier Reef. We need to see this as a positive move forward for the international community to step up. The window of opportunity is getting smaller and smaller as the world warms up.”


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scum's lies...

The [Australian] Government deliberately fuelled a conspiracy theory that China must have been involved in the UNESCO report. It is alleged that the Prime Minister’s Office backgrounded journalists along these lines for the first 24 hours of the release. The Australian ran a story, China-led ‘ambush’ on health of the Reef.  This was a complete fabrication to deflect from the substance of report.


The Australian Government has announced it is going to “fight” UNESCO’s proposed inscription of the Great Barrier Reef on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

One of the world’s most beautiful, biologically diverse and treasured places on Earth is declining precipitously because of climate change. Yet the government is gearing up to fight against global efforts to protect it. Has the Australian Government arrived at the lowest point of its performance on climate and biodiversity? Or will there be more?

The World Heritage Committee is due to meet 16-31 July to consider, amongst other things, the state of the Great Barrier Reef and how Australia is managing this global icon. Six weeks before each meeting, UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, which is the secretariat to the Committee, begins to release draft State of Conservation reports for many of the sites on the World Heritage List.

Very early on Tuesday 22nd June, UNESCO released a draft report on the Great Barrier Reef which contains a draft decision to be considered by the Committee.

This year, the meeting was to be held in China but due to COVID it will now be a completely online. China remains the chair of the meeting. The Government deliberately fuelled a conspiracy theory that China must have been involved in the report. It is alleged that the Prime Minister’s Office backgrounded journalists along these lines for the first 24 hours of the release. The Australian ran a story, China-led ‘ambush’ on health of the Reef.  This was a complete fabrication to deflect from the substance of report.

Then the Government pivoted to a new red-herring: procedural unfairness. The Government claimed that UNESCO has led them to believe a week before the report’s release that there was nothing to worry about. The Government then claimed to be “stunned” and “blindsided” by the decision. What better than to make oneself out to be a victim of unfairness to deflect further attention from the report?

These spurious claims were hosed down by UNESCO at a press conference in Paris overnight. The report had zero involvement by any State Party.  Only UNESCO and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which is the advisory body to the World Heritage Committee on sites listed for their natural values, are involved. This is standard operating procedure for all draft State of Conservation reports. There was nothing exceptional about the process to write the draft report.

Secondly, there was no procedural unfairness. UNESCO never shares the contents of a draft State of Conservation report with any State Party to the Convention. Claims otherwise are false.

So why is the Australian Government making false claims that can so easily be dispelled? Simply because it works. It works to deflect attention from the substance of the report in the 24-48 media cycle. But the Government might regret the medium-term implications of these short-term tactics. It would most certainly have off-sided UNESCO, IUCN and the Chair of this year’s Committee meeting. UNESCO and China co-chair the meeting. Anyone whose participated in a meeting knows its unwise to offside the Chair, particularly when you’re on the backfoot to start with.

The Government has announced it is going to fight this for the next four weeks by targeting countries that sit on the Committee. The Committee comprises 21 countries, including Australia. A country which has a World Heritage site that is being assessed at the meeting is not permitted to speak unless requested. But of course it can do a lot behind the scenes. In 2014-2015, Greg Hunt as Environment Minister and Julie Bishop as Minister for Foreign Affairs undertook an intensive global lobbying campaign to ensure the Great Barrier Reef was not inscribed on the In Danger List in 2015.

With COVID, there may be a great deal of online meetings being organised. Whether a Minister is permitted a private jet a la Matthias Cormann remains to be seen. But no doubt there will be significant taxpayers’ money spent trying to avert an In Danger listing.

If the Committee does endorse UNESCO’s draft decision and the Reef is added to the In Danger List, the Australian Government will need to develop “corrective measures” to address the threats that have resulted in the Reef being placed on the List. That means “corrective measures” to tackle climate change and to accelerate action to tackle poor water quality degrading inshore coral reefs. The draft report makes clear that limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C is a critical threshold for coral reefs. Australia’s 2030 target would need to be at least doubled to be compatible with a 1.5°C pathway.

The draft decision also requests that a “Reactive Monitoring Mission” come to Australia to investigate the threats and the policy solutions. This may be in the lead up to an election. It will be an interesting year ahead.

 Imogen Zethoven is an environmental consultant and director of Blue Ocean Consulting.


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well-chosen plunge site...

The Great Barrier Reef is 2299.753 kilometres long and covers 348,700 km². Some of it is damaged some of it is not. Half of the Great Barrier Reef Is Dead - National Geographic. So one can expect that the snorkelling by "ambassadors" at a diving site will be well-chosen by the LYING Scomo Government to trick them...


Ambassadors from more than a dozen countries will be flown to the Great Barrier Reef for a snorkelling trip on Thursday as part of the Morrison government’s lobbying campaign to keep the ocean jewel off the world heritage in danger list.

The government’s official reef ambassador Warren Entsch will host the Canberra-based diplomatic group which, he said, included nine countries with voting rights at the upcoming world heritage committee meeting.


Australia has launched an all-out lobbying offensive against a recommendation from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) to place the reef on the world heritage in danger list.


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victims of our own bullshit...


Scientists dismiss Warren Entsch's claim warm water from northern hemisphere is damaging reef


Coalition's Great Barrier Reef envoy also said Australia was a 'victim of our own success' when it came to coral bleaching.


Coral and ocean scientists have described statements on coral bleaching from the government's reef envoy, Warren Entsch, as "far-fetched" and "ill-informed" on the day he accompanied more than a dozen ambassadors on a snorkelling trip to the Great Barrier Reef.


Entsch told the ABC on Thursday warm water originating in the northern hemisphere and flowing across the Pacific to the reef was a chief cause of mass coral bleaching.


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minister saves the reef!...


Meeting both virtually and in the Chinese city of Fuzhou on Friday night, the UN agency’s World Heritage Committee voted to delay any decision on the reef’s status until 2023.

Federal politicians have lobbied against its proposed listing, fearing it would hurt the image of the reef as one of the jewels of Australian tourism.


Environment Minister Sussan Ley flew to several countries and gained enough support to override the listing.

“No one wants to see the reef listed as ‘in-danger’,” Ms Palaszczuk tweeted on Saturday from Tokyo where she attended the Olympic Games opening ceremony.

“That’s why we have been pushing the Morrison Government for a stronger, more comprehensive plan to address climate change, and improve water quality run off.

“This is critical for our state – the reef brings billions of dollars into our economy, and 60,000 Queensland jobs rely on it.”

The premier reiterated that she had written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking him to match Queensland’s $2 billion funding commitment on renewable energy, $270 million towards water quality initiatives and $500 million for land restoration.


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Read from top... Note: the reef has not been saved. What has been protected is its status in the eyes of those to whom Ms Ley paid a visit... Bring a couple of heat waves and the degradation of the reef will be far more severe (already 50 per cent)... But will this reprieve allow Ms Ley, Minister for f***ing the environment, to open new coal mines or extend new ones?... Yes Ms Ley, coal mining and the health of the reef are linked.


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what future?


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china, my friend...


Australia’s environment minister is toning down criticism of China after securing a win on the Great Barrier Reef.

Sussan Ley has carefully walked back suggestions Beijing was responsible for an unsuccessful attempt to have the reef listed as endangered.

The Australian government previously claimed China tried to manufacture the outcome by placing pressure on the World Heritage Committee.


But after successfully lobbying to stop the UNESCO downgrade, Ms Ley has changed her tune.

“All I can report is what I saw in the meeting and actually the Chinese delegate went along with the consensus, the overwhelming consensus, which came from 19 out of 21 countries,” she told 2GB radio.

Ms Ley went on to claim “green politics” played a part, with various countries using the process to make a broader point about climate change.

“There was a fair bit of green bureaucracy politics, if I can call it that, which you often do find in some of these bodies,” she said.

“Particularly when they are centred on a big picture without understanding individual countries as well as they should understand Australia.”

UNESCO has given Australia another eight months to upgrade its protection of the reef before making a final decision, but is adamant the site meets the criteria to be listed as endangered.

The World Heritage Committee has called for accelerating action at all possible levels to address the threat from climate change.

Ms Ley refused to accept a downgrade was inevitable unless the government showed it was taking climate change and water pollution more seriously.


She acknowledged the reef was under threat but said it was not alone.
Ms Ley described the deferral as a win for “Team Australia”.

“An in-danger listing would have been a real kick in the teeth to our tourism operators who work so hard, our farmers, our fishers, our marine park managers,” she said.

“Farmers have to watch what they do on their farms so the water quality going into the inshore reef is good, fishers have to report back, marine park managers make sure they kick out anyone who shouldn’t be there.”

The reef has been under the threat of downgrade for several years following several mass bleaching events, with government scientists rating the outlook as poor to very poor.

Environmental groups have described the deferral as a victory for cynical lobbying efforts rather than science or the reef.



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Note: the Reef is still half dead...