Tony Abbott’s climate change ‘conversion’ runs aground
New York: Julie Bishop has rejected Barack Obama’s assertion that the Great Barrier Reef is under threat from climate change in a further sign of the Australian government’s displeasure with the US President’s speech that overshadowed the G20 in Brisbane.
But world leading scientists have rejected Ms Bishop’s claims, pointing out that rising temperatures threaten the reef with mass bleaching, while fragile ecosystems will suffer due to increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the oceans.
The Foreign Minister had previously gently chided the US President, saying she personally briefed the United States about potential threats to the reef just days before Mr Obama’s address last Saturday, but in an exclusive interview with Fairfax Media in New York, Ms Bishop went further and directly contradicted the President.
In his speech, Mr Obama warned “the incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef” is threatened by climate change.
“Because I have not had time to go to the Great Barrier Reef and I want to come back, and I want my daughters to be able to come back, and I want them to be able to bring their daughters or sons to visit. And I want that there 50 years from now,” he told an audience at the University of Queensland.
But on Friday Ms Bishop said the Australian government was already acting to protect the reef from its greatest threats, which she stressed did not include climate change.
“It’s not under threat from climate change because its biggest threat is nutrient runoffs from agricultural land [and] the second biggest threat is natural disasters, but this has been for 200 years,” she told Fairfax Media in New York.
However, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute, backed the US President, saying Mr Obama was “right on the money”.
“We have one of the jewels of the planet in our possession and we should care a lot about climate and he wasn’t getting that from our leader [Prime Minister Tony Abbott],” Dr Hoegh-Guldberg said. Peer reviewed research by Dr Hoegh-Guldberg says that even global warming limited to 2 degrees will be devastating to the reefs.