The Australian environment minister said she would file a motion challenging UNESCO’s move to put the Great Barrier Reef on the list of endangered World Heritage sites.
According to the source, the Australian government is doing all possible to conserve and defend the Great Barrier Reef. Furthermore, UNESCO should dismiss government concerns about the natural site’s lack of protection. However, authorities from the United Nations Cultural Organization and the International Union for Conservation of Nature stated that the government needs to undertake “ambitious, rapid, and sustained” climate action. Otherwise, the Great Barrier Reef will crumble.
“We’ll very clearly make the point to UNESCO that there is no need to single the Great Barrier Reef out in this way,” said Tanya Plibersk, the environment minister.
“The reason that UNESCO in the past has singled out a place as at risk is that they wanted to see greater government investment or greater government action and, since the change of government, both of those things have happened,” she added.
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The Australian government promises to safeguard the site
Plibersek said that the Australian government has already begun taking action to preserve the reefs from destruction. For example, the country’s legislature enacted legislation that lowers greenhouse gas emissions by 43%. Furthermore, she stated that the Australian government would spend 1.2 billion Australian dollars, or $798 million, to restore the reef. Plibersek also advocated for canceling two dams allegedly being built in Queensland. The building would have hurt the corals and the marine ecology.
“If the Great Barrier Reef is in danger, then every coral reef in the world is in danger. If this World Heritage site is in danger, then most World Heritage sites around the world are in danger from climate change,” Plibersek added.
According to the study, the Australian federal government stressed the need for more ambitious climate targets. According to the global norm, Australia must proactively cut emissions to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius and 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit warming limit. Jodie Rummer, a marine scientist at James Cook University, supported the demands for more aggressive aims.
“We are taking action, but that action needs to be much more rapid and much more urgent,” she attested.
“We cannot claim to be doing all we can for the reef at this point. And we aren’t. So we need to be sending that message to the rest of the world that we are doing everything that we possibly can for the reef, and that means we need to take urgent action on emissions immediately,” she added.
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To make the decision
UNESCO will still meet to decide on the topic. The last Australian administration successfully lobbied against classifying the reef as “in danger,” which is what Plibersek wants to accomplish this time. Scientists claim, however, that coral bleaching has already harmed more than 90% of the Great Barrier Reef. Bleaching happened in 2016, 2017, and 2020, affecting two-thirds of the coral.
The Great Barrier Reef contains 10% of all corals on the planet. It spans over 348,000 square kilometers and is home to over 2,500 reef habitats. However, significant warming across the Pacific Ocean over time harmed the coral, causing widespread bleaching. However, the environment minister reaffirmed that her administration would use all available resources to revive the reefs.
Photo Credit: Lucas Jackson