Live Action! A painted picture for UNESCO

Feature Story - 6 March, 2012
In three weeks the federal government is set to approve the worlds biggest coal port right in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Fortunately, United Nations watchdog (UNESCO) arrived yesterday to investigate the impacts of development on the reef.

Gladstone, 7th March 2012. Greenpeace activists paint the message "Reef in Danger" on the side of a coal ship - the Panamainian flagged Chou San - berthed at Gladstone RG Tann Coal terminal, as a UNESCO team inpect the harbour. UNESCO are concerned about the impact of resource extraction and expansion is having on the Great Barrier Reef. ©Greenpeace NO ARCHIVE. NO RESALE. CREDIT COMPULSORY. OK FOR ONLINE REPRO

Today we’re sending them a message: our Great Barrier Reef is in danger.

Activists this morning painted the message on a huge coal ship moored at Gladstone, as UNESCO investigators arrived to inspect the harbour. The World Heritage custodians have arrived in Australia concerned about gas developments on the reef. We’re making sure they also consider the enormous threats to the reef by the coal expansion plans.

If coal mining and export expansion plans proceed unchecked, by the end of the decade there will be six times as many coal ships passing through the Great Barrier Reef and millions of tonnes of sea floor dredged. Read more on the plans.

UNESCO’s visit should serve as a wake-up call to the Queensland and Australian Governments. No longer can the reef be quietly turned into an industrial playground for mining barons. The reef is Australia’s legacy and we must protect it.

Creating a stir

We knew taking on the rich and powerful coal export industry would cause a stir. After just a few days we’ve had a massive backlash from the industry and politicians. The media has been extensively reporting on some of our plans and the mining industry has been quick to bite back.

While the mining industry runs a fear campaign about environmentalists’ plans to ‘ruin the economy’, they conveniently gloss over the threat to the 60,000 tourism jobs reliant on the Barrier Reef. They don’t mention that the coal boom is driving up the dollar or threatening jobs in other industries. The Environmental Impact Statement for just one of the proposed mines in the Galilee Basin states that the mine could destroy over 2000 jobs in Queensland manufacturing alone.

While the powerful mining lobby is quick to trample on opposition, Greenpeace is proud to stand by local communities, farmers and grassroots environmental groups in Queensland affected by the mining boom.

Time running out

By the end of this month the government will decide whether to approve the world’s biggest coal port in the World Heritage Area. The Abbott Point port is just one of the massive development plans standing by for approval.

The Queensland and Australian Governments have agreed to a ‘strategic assessment’ to determine development impacts on the reef. They cannot approve these projects before this assessment is complete, otherwise the damage will be done.

Please join us and become a Reef Defender. This is one of the defining battles of our time and we need you by our side.


1.    Sign petition – then share it

2.    Make a donation – To stop the dramatic expansion of the coal industry is going to need the biggest environmental campaign Australia has ever seen.

3.    Contact your local MP – demand a halt to reef developments before the strategic assessment is completed.