Aust removed from climate change report on request

  • 27/05/2016
Aerial view of bleached coral reef located between Cairns and Papua New Guinea (AAP)
Aerial view of bleached coral reef located between Cairns and Papua New Guinea (AAP)

Any mention of Australia in a recent UNESCO climate change report was taken out on request by the Australian government, according to The Guardian.

The major UN report, World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate published on Thursday, initially had a chapter on the Great Barrier Reef as well as smaller sections on Kakadu and the Tasmanian forests.

It said climate change combined with weather conditions meant the Reef is in the worst crisis in recorded history, and 93 percent of the reefs along the 2300km site have experienced bleaching due to warm water.

The Australian Department of Environment saw a draft of the report and objected, believing it would hurt tourism in the country. Every mention of Australia was then removed by UNESCO, The Guardian reports.

This meant Australia was the only inhabited continent to not be mentioned.

"Recent experience in Australia had shown that negative commentary about the status of world heritage properties impacted on tourism," a spokesperson for the environment department said.

The environment department also said in a statement: "The department expressed concern that giving the report the title 'Destinations at risk' had the potential to cause considerable confusion. In particular, the world heritage committee had only six months earlier decided not to include the Great Barrier Reef on the in-danger list and commended Australia for the Reef 2050 Plan."

Professor at the Australian National University and head of Australia's Climate Council Will Steffen told The Guardian he compares the Australian government's actions to the old Soviet Union.

"Perhaps in the old Soviet Union you would see this sort of thing happening, where governments would quash information because they didn't like it. But not in western democracies. I haven't seen it happen before."

Climate and coral reef scientists found the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef was made almost 200 times more likely by climate change in a study published in April.