Sir David Attenborough has singled out Prime Minister Scott Morrison for his lack of action on climate change, describing the Great Barrier Reef as a “tragic sight”.
The popular British broadcaster and natural historian offered his most scathing takedown yet of Australia’s climate policies during a rare interview with Triple J’s Hack program.
Sir David said while previous Australian governments had been “saying all the right things” about tackling climate change, that direction had gone downhill with the election of Mr Morrison.
“You are keepers of an extraordinary section of the surface of this planet, including the barrier reef, and what you say, what you do, really, really matters,” Sir David told the program.
“When you’ve been upstanding and talking what I see is the truth about what we’re doing to the natural world and then you suddenly say, ‘No, no, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter how much coal we burn’… what do you say?”
"It's their world": Sir David Attenborough praises young people protesting for climate change, and slams Scott Morrison for bringing a lump of coal into Parliament in 2017.
Posted by Hack on triple j on Monday, September 23, 2019
The 93-year-old conservationist criticised Mr Morrison for bringing a lump of coal into parliament when he was treasurer in 2017.
“I don’t think it was a joke,” Sir David said of the stunt.
“If you weren’t opening a coal mine, OK, I would agree; it’s a joke.
“But you are opening a coal mine.
“Do you think it’s right that we go on destroying the natural world?”
During the recent federal election, Mr Morrison sought rural votes by vowing to support the construction of new coal mines, including the controversial proposed Adani coal mine in Queensland.
He also promised Australia would meet its Paris targets “in a canter”, despite offering an emissions reduction target that was less ambitious than Labor’s.
Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise under his leadership.
In his interview with Triple J’s Hack program, Sir David said he was shocked by the human impact of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef during his most recent dive there 10 years ago.
“A bleached reef is a tragic sight,” he said.
“A desperately tragic sight, particularly if you’ve seen it before, and you know what it could have been like.”
Sir David had first dived there in the 1950s.
Sir David said he supported the youth-led climate strikes happening around the world, but stressed that big business would need to get behind solutions to combat climate change if we were to see any real and enduring progress.
“We have to convince bankers and big business that, in the end, the long-term future lies in having a healthy planet,” he told Hack.
“And unless you do something about it… you’re going to lose your money.”