Climate Change: Act now to protect wildlife and jobs in tourism
Echidna Walkabout’s Position Statement on Climate Change
Without icons like Koalas and the Great Barrier Reef remaining wild, free and attainable, Australia will lose its competitive edge as a desirable destination for international visitors.
This will lead to significant job losses in the tourism and hospitality industries.
Climate Change is a direct threat to our future therefore Echidna Walkabout has framed the following Position Statement. We urge others in our industry to support this model.
- Support the future: We will support organisations with clearly defined and extensive CO² emission reduction plans ahead of those that lack these initiatives
- Lead by example: We call on the Australian tourism industry to oppose projects that increase CO² emissions and pollution that damage ecosystems and thus directly threaten the viability of tourism businesses. Examples of projects that are clear and ominous threats to our industry are:
- Galilee Basin in Queensland : huge new coal extraction proposal (Adani). Read the Climate Council’s findings on the risks posed to tourism and ecosystems if this mine goes ahead.
- Great Australian Bight : proposal to drill for oil (Chevron)
- Toondah Wetlands Development Queensland: residential and marina development on a RAMSAR-listed wetland of international importance. If this goes ahead critically endangered shorebirds will be put at risk. Save Toondah
These proposals fail to stand up to scrutiny on environmental, commercial and economic grounds.
We recommend the following actions:
Governments must act NOW: Both Federal and State Governments will recognise that the Australian tourism and hospitality sectors rely heavily on our unique wildlife and landscape experiences. To this end governments will:
- immediately abandon the inflated support for fossil fuel industries. These industries receive benefits, funding and subsidies far in excess of their value to Australia’s economy.
- recognise that political expediency and intransigence in Australia is dangerously stalling our ability to act quickly on initiatives to stop global warming
- urgently and immediately implement all facets of the 2015 United Nations Paris Agreement on Climate Change to halt global warming below 1.5c. Read why experts say that Australia is falling behind on climate action compared to other developed nations (New Daily)
- promote (rather than hinder) renewable energy projects
- allocate funds for actions and to organisations that repair and improve ecosystems. These include the national parks and wildlife departments of government, scientific research organisations and environmental organisations.
- give support and funding to the tourism industry commensurate with its status as one of Australia’s largest employers. Current levels of government support for tourism are well below that given to other industries of similar size.
Tourism to unite: Above all the Australian Tourism Industry must unite to halt human-induced Climate Change and its effects on the industry.
- tourism businesses should be encouraged to speak up and speak out against threats to their industry
- tourism businesses should feel they can speak to media about their concerns without fear of reprisals
- tourism industry should become aware of their influence and importance to the Australian economy
- all members of the tourism industry should understand that a strong, economically viable tourism industry equals a strong voice for wildlife, natural landscapes and Australian cultures.
Echidna Walkabout acknowledges that : climate change and associated pollution is a serious impending threat to the multi-billion dollar tourism industry in Australia. Rising temperatures, drier summers, increasing numbers and intensity of extreme weather events, rising ocean temperatures and salinity, decreased rainfall and reducing streamflows are already having an impact on wildlife and most forms of tourism.
Pollution of air, rivers, sea and land by waste caused by extraction and burning of fossil fuels impacts heavily on natural environments and wildlife which are the icons of tourism in Australia. Read how climate is affecting koalas.
One of the primary reasons international visitors choose Australia as a destination is the country’s unique wildlife and natural landscapes. Read the report on Koalas and tourism: An economic evaluation. Visitors want to see wildlife in the wild rather than in a zoo. Read this recent article in The Australian about what brings tourists to Australia. Australian landscapes are far more exciting with wildlife present in the scene.
Human-induced Climate Change is changing our world
- Indisputable scientific evidence shows that human-induced Climate Change, caused by the burning of fossil fuels and the resulting release of CO2 and other pollutants into the atmosphere, is seriously damaging ecosystems and wildlife throughout the world,
- Climate change is borderless; any CO2 emission anywhere impacts on the entire globe,
- Australia is more vulnerable than most other places in the world to climate change. Most of our ecosystems on land are arid or semi-arid, much of our agriculture is dryland farming – any reduction in rainfall will hit hard. Most of our land lies close to sea level, making it vulnerable to sea level rise.
- Australian plants and animals are exhibiting severe stress as a result of climate change. Two iconic examples that bring an estimated $13b+ into Australia annually are:
- Great Barrier Reef: Severe, regular coral bleaching of the northern sections of the Great Barrier Reef resulting in rapid reduction in associated flora and fauna. Read why an expert panel has warned the Federal Government that their strategy does not address the primary threat to the Reef: greenhouse gas emissions (Sydney Morning Herald)
- Koalas: An alarming decline in the population of koalas across their range especially in Queensland and New South Wales. Read about one simple thing you can do to help koalas, and how scientific reports show that one of the major threat to koalas is climate
- The annual value of nature tourism to Australia is $33b which is ⅓ of the total value of inbound and domestic tourism to the Australian economy. Read the report from Tourism Research Australia
- Employment generated by tourism is in the order of 1 million Australians. See the 2015 Australian Tourism Labour Force Report
NOTES & REFERENCES
- Risky Business: Health, Climate and Economic Risks of the Carmichael Coalmine. Climate Council May 2017
- ‘We can’t be passive bystanders’: Advisers call for dramatic re-think on Great Barrier Reef. Sydney Morning Herald 21st May 2017
- Great Barrier Reef 2050 plan no longer achievable….., experts say. The Guardian 25th May 2017
- One Degree for Koalas Echidna Walkabout Blog Post 1st February 2017
- Three years left to save the planet….experts say. The New Daily 29th June 2017
- “The heatwaves and lack of rainfall won’t just impact humans, but Australia’s entire ecosystem” Eco News July 4th 2017
- “Want to fight climate change? Have fewer children” The Guardian 12 July 2017
- “Earth’s sixth mass extinction event underway, scientists warn” The Guardian 11 July 2017
- CO² graph at the head of this article courtesy of the: United States National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
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