Australia opposes ‘endangered’ status for Great Barrier Reef

Australia’s environment minister has said the country will oppose the UN recommendation for the Great Barrier Reef to be listed as an ‘in danger’ world heritage site.  

A recent UNESCO report suggested the move after uncovering the major threats facing the reef due to the climate crisis and warming oceans

After 10 days of monitoring in March, the report warned the reef is at risk of being lost without action of ‘the upmost urgency’.  

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said the report reflected the inaction of Scott Morrison’s conservative government, voted out of power in May.  

school of fish in body of water

The reef contributes $6.4 billion to the economy and having the reef placed on the endangered list could risk its heritage status, putting off tourists.  

‘We’ll very clearly make the point to UNESCO that there is no need to single the Great Barrier Reef out in this way,’ Ms Plibersek told reporters. ‘The reason that UNESCO in the past has singled out a place as at risk is because they wanted to see greater government investment or greater government action and, since the change of government, both of those things have happened.’  

Since the new Labour government has come to power, it has ramped up Australia’s climate ambitions, committing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 43% below 2005 levels by 2030. The previous government had only agreed to reduce emissions by between 26 to 28%.  

However, decisive action is needed to protect the reef from bleaching events which are becoming more frequent as ocean is heating up.  

Four bleaching events have occurred over the last seven years, causing corals to turn white as they release the colourful algae living in their tissues. Corals aren’t dead once this happens, but they are more vulnerable and more susceptible to disease.  

Photo by Francesco Ungaro


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