Coal? What coal? Reef doing great, say ministers | RenewEconomy

Coal? What coal? Reef doing great, say ministers

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Federal and Queensland environment ministers say “significant progress” being made on protecting, improving health of Great Barrier Reef.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Fresh from using the Marrakech climate talks to lobby for the development of Carmichael coal mine – an effort that won Australia a “fossil of the day” award – federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg is touting his and the Queensland government’s progress on “protecting and improving” the Great Barrier Reef.

The Reef, which is set to be one of the biggest losers if the Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin goes ahead, has been making global headlines for all the wrong reasons, as coral bleaching and other detrimental effects of global warming cause the natural wonder untold damage.


But Frydenberg, in a joint media release with Queensland’s environment minister Steven Miles, said the state and federal governments were making “significant progress” on improving the health of the Reef, including through their joint $45 million investment in a program to improve water quality and reduce sediment run-off.

The joint program between government, the private sector, research institutions and conservation groups includes “scientific investigation” to understand the nature of gullies and the restorative activities required to fix them. Other work includes physical remediation, mulching, revegetation, fencing, native grass seed production and grazing land management improvements.

Frydneberg and Miles also promised they would provide an update, next month, to the World Heritage Centre on the “significant progress,” including “a factual summary” of progress made on “specific actions” of the Reef 2050 Plan, and an Investment Framework and update on the response to coral bleaching.

The ministers said their governments were proud of what had been achieved in the first 18 months of the 35 year plan, which would see a total of $2 billion spent on the Reef over the next decade.

“The first Reef 2050 Annual Report released earlier this year illustrates for UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee our staunch commitment to conserving this amazing natural asset,” Minister Frydenberg said.

“It showed we’ve already completed 29 of the plan’s 151 actions including an historic ban on the sea-based disposal of capital dredge material within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area.”


Miles, who is also Queensland’s minister for the Reef, said early efforts under the plan would help to build its resilience.

“We have used legal and policy levers to improve water quality including new compliance measures on cane farming and grazing,” he said. “We have established a strong partnership approach based on the best available science and momentum is really building for a new era in Reef protection.”

But that science clearly does not include climate science, which rather inconveniently says that “the biggest threat to the (Great Barrier Reef) today, and to its ecosystems services, biodiversity, heritage values and tourism economy, is climate change, including warming sea temperatures, accelerating rates of sea level rise, changing weather patterns and ocean acidification.”

And what’s one of the key drivers of dangerous climate change? According to a November 2015 report from The Australia Institute, digging up and burning the 2.3 billion tonnes of coal contained in the deposit at Queensland’s Galilee Basin would effectively cancel out the pledged annual emission reductions of Australia, and for New Zealand nearly 10 times over – and that was before Australia ratified the Paris Climate agreement.


“The ambitious targets of the Paris Agreement are completely incompatible with opening up new fossil fuel projects,” said Greenpeace Australia Pacific reef campaigner, Shani Tager in October. “It’s absurd for Australia to give special privileges to a coal mine as the global agreement enters into force.

“Paving the way for Australia’s largest coal mine just after the reef has suffered the worst coral bleaching in its history is indefensible,” Tager said. “A project of this size, scale and controversy needs proper scrutiny, not to be pushed blindly through the approval process.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

  1. Kenshō 4 years ago

    Well it’s a beginning for protecting the Great Barrier Reef. The federal and state governments appear to be cooperating with the rest of the community. Is this an appeal to an increasing number of voters with green values? Can we anticipate further cooperation with a global consensus?

    • Coley 4 years ago

      While they are promoting the galilee basin coal mine, any proclamation by this bunch of fraudsters is total greenwash.

      • Kenshō 4 years ago

        Now we wait to see what approaches are promoted by politicians next. History isn’t 100% predictive of future performance. I imagine this is what happened with global warming initially. Most people thought it could somehow be situated with previous pre-industrial trends in the earths temperatures. A new variable emerged, humanities growing capacity to effect the environment with their activities. On one hand people didn’t believe humanity’s effect could be so great and on the other hand no one wanted to curtail or modify their lifestyle. However scientists persisted and couldn’t make the data fit a new theme and only the most recalcitrant and selfish wanted to continue their consumption unabated. Slowly we’re all realising what we’ve done even though some of us have been resistant.

        • Coley 4 years ago

          Me , thee and Joe Bloggs around the corner can see the evidence of our own eyes, but our political futures and post political retirement plans aren’t tied to donations from the right wing press and fossil fuel incumbents!
          Now, these individuals and organisations are on the wane but they have the power to halt the move to decarbonisation in the short to medium term, by which time the damage will be irreparable.
          The message from this lot is ‘calm down dear, we have implemented measures that by 2050…….. ‘
          2050 is mentioned a lot lately, can’t think why, other that, by then the current crop of politicians and FF CEOs and others will be safely retired, GaGa or deid, but safely away from any threat of being held responsible for their actions.
          2050 is too bliddy late, “action this day” is what’s needed!

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            All true. And there has been a genuine instinct of attachment, denial and fear based self preservation, preventing families who benefited from an existing social order and hegemony, to acknowledge the changes afoot. This sense of entitlement is a deeply entrenched form of “identity”, which requires a process of removal beyond most people’s current capacity or interest. So there are grounds to not be too dismissive those with a sense of entitlement are totally intractable.

          • Coley 4 years ago

            Kensho, me bonnie lad/lass, when it comes to “families” or even individuals benefiting from the existing “social order” or identity, you are 20 years out of date, the communities that depended on heavy industry throughout the Western world have largely been destroyed, the piecemeal welfare stopgaps introduced after their demise are now largely eroded or have disappeared.
            The sense of identity or entitlement now only exists amongst the Neoliberal/ globalist elites pushing their agenda of the 1% owning 99% of the earths wealth, which they have largely achieved.
            Take a look at the bill gates “foundation” an individual who can at will, dispense millions in the direction of what particular whim interests him!
            Brexit? I voted for it, because it was a rare chance for the individual to have his/her vote make a difference.
            Oh stuff it, I think we are all screwed, just hope that before civilisation goes down the plug hole, Blairs Heid adorns the Palace of Westminster ( insert leader of choice/ representative house of assembly) here-;)

          • Kenshō 4 years ago

            For the majority of the readership of this website, there is a kind of hypothetical future based physical threat to water and food security, from scientifically verifiable dwindling biodiversity with us at the top of a food chain based upon plankton and so on. This threat has not yet arrived into the physical lives of many, excepting those displaced with previous work, farmers and so on. However there is a different type of experience for those at the top of humanity’s social order, who are experiencing a more immediately visceral emotional fear reaction, feeling like the death of a way of life of all they’ve ever known. In a way, their experience is on par with the miner, factory worker or farmer who has already lost their livelihood, so the Hanson Trump phenomenon emerges.

Comments are closed.

Get up to 3 quotes from pre-vetted solar (and battery) installers.