Australia To Challenge UNESCO Downgrade Of Great Barrier Reef
Brisbane, Australia, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 22nd Jun, 2021 ) :Australia will strongly oppose a UNESCO plan to list the Great Barrier Reef as "in danger" over its deterioration caused by climate change, the government said Tuesday.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley said Australia would mount a challenge after the "back-flip on previous assurances from UN officials", ahead of the World Heritage Committee's 44th session hosted by China next month.
"This sends a poor signal to those nations who are not making the investments in reef protection that we are making," she said in a statement.
Australia has resisted calls to commit to a target of net-zero emissions by 2050, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying the country hoped to reach carbon neutral "as soon as possible" without harming its commodity-dependent economy.
Aside from its inestimable natural, scientific and environmental value, the 2,300-kilometre-long (1,400-mile-long) reef was worth an estimated US$4.8 billion a year in tourism revenue for the Australian economy before the coronavirus pandemic.
"The recommendation from UNESCO is clear and unequivocal that the Australian government is not doing enough to protect our greatest natural asset, especially on climate change," said WWF head of oceans Richard Leck.
In December, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said climate change had become the biggest threat to UN-listed natural world heritage sites and pushed the reef into "critical" condition.
Bleaching occurs when changes in ocean temperatures stress healthy corals, causing them to expel algae living in their tissues -- draining them of their vibrant colours.
"I agree that global climate change is the single biggest threat to the world's reefs but it is wrong, in our view, to single out the best managed reef in the world for an 'in danger' listing," Ley said.
The Great Barrier Reef has now suffered three mass coral bleaching events in the past five years, losing half its corals since 1995 as ocean temperatures have climbed.
The reef has also been battered by several cyclones as climate change drives more extreme weather and outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish -- which eat the coral -- in recent decades.