The Great Barrier Reef should be placed on to a list of world heritage sites that are “in danger”, according to a recommendation from UN officials that urges Australia to take “accelerated action at all possible levels” on climate change.
Spanning nearly 133,000 square miles (345,000 square kilometers) and home to more than 1,500 species of fish and 411 species of hard corals, the Great Barrier Reef is a vital marine ecosystem. It also contributes $4.8 billion annually to Australia’s economy and supports 64,000 jobs, according to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. But the reef’s long-term survival has come into question. It has suffered from three devastating mass bleaching events since 2015, caused by above-average ocean temperatures as the burning of fossil fuels heats up the planet.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization says the world’s biggest coral reef system should be placed on the list at the world heritage committee meeting next month. Making its recommendation, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) committee said action was needed to counter the effects of climate change.
Defending Australia’s efforts to protect the reef, Environment Minister Sussan Ley said Canberra would challenge the recommendation, saying some hidden agenda had influenced its findings. Environment Minster Ley agreed climate change is the single biggest threat to the world’s reefs, but said “it is wrong, in our view, to single out the best managed reef in the world for an ‘in danger’ listing.” “This decision was flawed. Clearly there were politics behind it,” Ley said, adding that Australia had conveyed its concerns to UNESCO director general Audrey Azoulay.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE GUARDIAN
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