Australian news, and some related international items

Most Australian prioritise Great Barrier Reef over coal industry

coral bleachingYourVote: Great Barrier Reef should be prioritised over coal mining, survey shows June 14, 2016  Environment and immigration correspondent  A thumping majority of Australians want the health of the Great Barrier Reef prioritised over coal mining, according to a survey of more than 63,000 Fairfax Media readers.

People living in mining states, the lower-educated, older people and men were less likely to agree to such a trade-off.

However the result suggests neither major party has fully grasped the strength of public sentiment for protecting the natural wonder, which is suffering from declining water quality, and record coral bleaching largely caused by warming oceans.

An analysis of Fairfax Media’s YourVote tool, which gauges respondents’ beliefs to determine their political leanings, shows about 49,900 respondents – or 79 per cent – “strongly agree” or “agree” that the health of the Great Barrier Reef should be prioritised over coal mining.

Conservationists say the coal industry affects the reef because Queensland projects require port infrastructure, including dredging near the reef, and coal must be shipped through the sensitive marine environment. They also say coal burning more generally contributes to global warming, and subsequent coral bleaching.

Support for protecting the reef over mining was stronger among women (84 per cent) than men (77 per cent).

Such sentiment was lowest in states and territories where mining is a large part of the economy: Queensland (73 per cent), the Northern Territory (75 per cent) and Western Australia (76 per cent).

Those who did not finish high school or undertake further education were also less likely to want the reef’s health prioritised over coal mining than those with vocational training or university qualifications.

A slightly smaller proportion of respondents aged 65 or over were likely to agree with the proposition, while it had highest support among those aged 18-34.

University of Sydney professor Ariadne Vromen, a political sociologist who is advising Fairfax Media on the YourVote project, said the results suggested that neither major party were as committed as respondents were to prioritising the reef over coal, adding “this is actually a really important issue that most Australians agree on”.

“The Great Barrier Reef has world heritage status and Australians clearly appreciate what that means,” she said.

Both major parties have made significant pre-election pledges to help protect the reef. However critics including the Greens have called for more drastic measures, including blocking new or expanded coal and gas mines such as Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine in central Queensland.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday defended the government’s stance on cutting harmful greenhouse gas emissions, insisting “heroic efforts by one country … are futile” and nations must act “in a co-ordinated way”.

But Australian National University professor Howard Bamsey, a former government negotiator in global climate action, said this rhetoric ignored the economic opportunities created by boldly cutting emissions.

That positive paradigm was “the biggest change in global climate policy in the last seven or eight years”, he said.

“Acting unilaterally, providing you have chosen which direction and actions wisely, can make sense for the economy,” Professor Bamsey said.

An international effort based on unilateral action would create “a new climate economy” driven by competition. Australia’s dependency on emissions-intensive industries meant “we have more to gain in making sure we are not left behind,” he said.


June 15, 2016 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: