Coal and coral don't mix - the Great Barrier Reef is still in danger

Press release - 1 July, 2015
Bonn, Germany, 1 July, 2015 - Greenpeace has warned that until the threat from coal and climate change is removed, the Great Barrier Reef remains in danger.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Bonn today confirmed its serious concern for the deteriorating health of the Reef and kept the Australian government on probation, giving Australia 18 months to take meaningful action to protect the Reef.

Greenpeace Political Advisor for Australia Pacific, Jess Panegyres said:

“Until the plans for the massive coal mine and port expansion are dropped, it’s impossible to take Australia’s claims that they are protecting the Reef seriously. The government’s Reef 2050 Plan has loopholes so big you can drive coal-carrying ships through them. The plan has effectively carved out a space for massive coal mines and port expansion that will create a highway for coal ships straight through the Reef.”

The position of the Australian Academy of Science is that the Australian Government’s Reef 2050 Plan falls short in protecting the Reef [1]. A poll of six countries showed that a majority of people across the globe are ““outraged” or “concerned” by planned industrial expansion on the Reef” [2]. Eleven international financial institutions have also said that they will not invest in the proposed Carmichael mine and Abbot Point port [3].

“Tony Abbott is one of the last world leaders who believes in a future of coal and not renewable energy. It's time for Abbott to invest in real, sustainable jobs for the Reef, such as tourism, science, leisure and fishing,” said Panegyres.

The coal industry is in global decline, with orders and prices falling massively and projected to continue to do so. Greenpeace is also warning financial institutions still considering investing in the Carmichael and Abbot Point projects that to do so would be very bad for business.

“The millions of people around the world who love the Reef will stand against any government or bank that supports the coal industry in its destruction of the Reef,” concluded Panegyres.



The Greenpeace delegation is in Bonn to highlight the massive threat of climate change and reckless oil and coal development to the Golden Mountains of Altai; Virgin Komi Forests; Natural Complex of Wrangel Island Reserve and Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Sites in Russia and Australia.

Jess Panegyres’ statement before the World Heritage Committee can be found here.

[1] Australian Academy Of Science (2014) Response to the Draft Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan can be read here.

[2] The global poll on the Reef can be found here.

[3] Societe Generale, BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Citi, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs.


In Bonn:
Jess Panegyres, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Political Advisor: + 61 424 090 396
Arin de Hoog, Greenpeace Media: +31 646 197 329

In Australia:
Shani Tager, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Reef Campaigner: +61 427 914 070
Sara Holden, Greenpeace Media, Sydney: +61 417 329 504