Censored UNESCO emails should be released in full

02.08.16 By
This content is more than 7 years old

Censored emails which led to all mentions of Australia being scrubbed from a UNESCO report on climate threats to world heritage sites should be released in full immediately, the Climate Council said today.

After explosive revelations in May that the Australian Government had pressured an international organisation to remove all mentions in a scientific report of the impact of climate change on Australian world heritage sites, today it’s been revealed that the cover-up continues.

Correspondence between Australia’s ambassador to UNESCO George Mina, staff at UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and the Department of Environment were released to the Guardian under a Freedom of Information request.

But the vast majority of text was blacked out meaning that there can be no public scrutiny of the events that led up to the sections on Australia being cut.

“This is yet another troubling turn of events in this saga,” Professor Will Steffen said.

“First, all mention of Australia is scrubbed from a report on climate threats to world heritage sites upon government request.

“And now, it appears that emails which would shine a light on how this kind of scientific censorship could occur in a modern Western democracy have also been censored.

“It is important for the integrity of the scientific process that we get to the bottom of what actually was done by whom to expunge scientifically valid, peer-reviewed material from a UN report.

“This kind of political wrangling might save face but it won’t save the reef. The latest observations following the mass bleaching event shows the Great Barrier Reef is in dire straits with parts of the reef suffering total ecosystem collapse.

Instead of devoting energy to preventing the public from knowing the full scale of the damage to the reef, the Climate Council said, the government’s efforts should be focused on strong and rapid climate action, which is the only way the Reef will have a chance to survive.

Anatomy of a cover-up

For media enquiries, please contact Head of Communications Jessica Craven on 0400 424 559 or jess@climatecouncil.org.au