Losing Nemo

23 January 2014

Written by Nicole Ghio, Sierra Club International Climate Program After his stop in Los Angeles, everyone’s favorite cartoon clownfish, Nemo, continued his tour of the U.S., stepping out in sub-freezing temperatures in Washington, D.C. to ask Americans to help him save his home, the Great Barrier Reef.

Nemo at the Export-Import Bank of the United States on Wednesday, Jan. 22


What’s Nemo doing touring the U.S.? Is he lost again?

While the Australian Embassy and Alliance 21 – a partnership that includes large corporations and big polluters like DOW Chemical, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, GE, NewsCorp, Morgan Stanley and Raytheon – hosted a dialogue on energy and Asia as part of “G’Day USA,” a month-long promotion of Australian business interests, Nemo hit the streets to protest possible U.S. involvement in plans that could destroy the reef.

Nemo at the White House

Nemo at the White House

Not one–but two–companies, GVK and Adani, want to open new enormous coal mines in Australia’s Galilee Basin, and then dredge (the destructive operation of scooping up and moving sediment from waterways) within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Site to expand shipping channels to take the coal to Asia. But that’s not all. Media reports have linked the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) to the projects, which means U.S. tax dollars could help finance the scheme – something Ex-Im Chairman Fred Hochberg has failed to deny, despite going against the spirit of President Obama’s pledge to end financing for coal plants overseas in his Climate Action Plan.

Dredging in the Great Barrier Reef will put clownfish like Nemo, as well as sea turtles, dugongs, dolphins, and many other amazing coral reef creatures in grave danger. Sustainability agency UNESCO has even warned the Australian government that dredging could endanger the Reef’s World Heritage status. Meanwhile, numerous reports have shown the projects are a financial boondoggle, and investors continue to drop out of dredging projects.


 You can help Nemo save his home by tweeting at the      G’Day USA event organizers and the U.S. Export-Import Bank and telling them to #SaveTheReef.