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Australia protests UN warning on Great Barrier Reef

Australia protests UN warning on Great Barrier Reef

The Australian government is protesting against UNESCO, which wants to declare that the Great Barrier Reef is in danger as a result of climate change.

Australia’s environment minister, Susan Lee, expressed her disappointment and disbelief at a press conference on Tuesday. You will fight against UNESCO’s proposal to add the Great Barrier Reef to the list of endangered World Heritage sites. The proposal will be considered at a meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in China in July. Photo: Lukas Coch/AAP/AP/NTB

UNESCO’s concern is expressed in a new draft report. The Great Barrier Reef should be included in the list of endangered World Heritage sites, according to the United Nations.

The reason is global warming. Extreme sea temperatures led to so-called coral bleaching in both 2016 and 2017. Since 1995, the world’s largest reef has lost half of its coral reefs.

Researchers have Warning That all of the world’s tropical coral reefs could be lost due to global warming.

An area on the Great Barrier Reef in 2017. Foto: Kyodo / AP / NTB

Blame it on China

However, the Australian authorities are responding forcefully to the fact that UNESCO will mark the Great Barrier Reef as endangered. Environment Minister Susan Lee claims that China is trying to push for a politically motivated change in the UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s assessment.

Earlier, it was said that Australia received assurances from UNESCO that this time there would be no recommendation to classify the coral reef as a threatened World Heritage site.

Lay says she spoke to UNESCO President Audrey Azoulay and expressed her disappointment and disbelief.

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Australian authorities report that they have spent significant amounts of money protecting the Great Barrier Reef. Ley claims that the Great Barrier Reef is the best preserved reef in the entire world.

The debate over climate cuts

But it is unclear what the impact of local protection measures will be when the main threat is global warming. The draft UNESCO report calls for Australia to step up its climate action at “all possible levels”.

While other Western countries have promised so-called net zero emissions by 2050, Australia has yet to set such a target. Environmental organizations are highly critical of the country’s climate efforts.

The Climate Council believes the draft UNESCO report is a disgrace to the Australian government.

Australia enjoys significant tourism revenue from the Great Barrier Reef, and before the pandemic revenue was more than NOK 35 billion annually.

In the past, Australian authorities have expressed concern about the consequences for the tourism industry if coral reefs are added to the list of endangered World Heritage sites.