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UNESCO Warns Australian Government’s Failure On Climate Means Great Barrier Reef Is ‘World Heritage In Danger’

SYDNEY, June 22 2021 - The Australian Government’s support for the fossil fuel industry and lack of a credible climate policy has caused UNESCO to recommend the Great Barrier Reef be listed among World Heritage sites in danger, according to a new report. [1]

The UNESCO report published overnight warns that “progress has been insufficient in meeting key targets of the Reef 2050 Plan” and that “the Plan requires stronger and clearer commitments, in particular towards urgently countering the effects of climate change”.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter said “Australian politicians are finding that they cannot hide from the truth forever.”

“For too long, a succession of Australian prime ministers have hidden behind the big lie that you can protect the Great Barrier Reef without rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal, oil and gas,” he said.

"Just a week after Prime Minister Morrison faced the disapproval of the world's leaders for his poor climate performance at the G7 conference, we are seeing the terrible consequences of Australia's failure to reduce emissions - and the Reef is paying the price.

“The Australian government promised the world under the UNESCO treaty that it would do its ‘utmost’ to protect and preserve our magnificent Great Barrier Reef. Our politicians have not only failed to do this, by having no credible plan to rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions but have denied and tried to hide their failure at every turn.

“For Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison to keep his promise to the world and give the Great Barrier Reef a fighting chance, we need a credible national plan to cut emissions by 75 percent this decade”

The UNESCO report urged the Australian Government to “ fully incorporate the conclusions of the 2019 GBR Outlook report” and “provide clear commitments to address threats from climate change, in conformity with the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement”.

The warning comes as Australia faces increasing international pressure to step up its inadequate efforts to reduce emissions. At last week’s G7 summit, leaders of some of the world’s biggest economies agreed to phase out coal-fired power generation and end the funding of new coal generation in developing countries.

The commitment is in line with advice from the International Energy Agency, which earlier this year proposed a global pathway to net-zero emissions that called for developed economies like Australia to end all new coal, oil and gas projects this year.

Australia is one of only a handful of countries to fail to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050 and has currently pledged to reduce emissions by 26-28 percent by 2030. G7 nations have pledged to at least halve emissions by 2030 while the UK has gone much further.

Notes

[1] https://whc.unesco.org/archive/2021/whc21-44com-7B.Add-en.pdf

Read the Reef 2050 Plan here

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