Great Barrier Reef: Australia avoids UNESCO’s downgrade | Environmental News
Australia on Friday avoided listing the Great Barrier Reef as an endangered UNESCO World Heritage Site, despite widespread climate change spurring the destruction of ecosystem corals.
The actions of the UN agencies have been criticized by environmental activists.
After a joint lobby in Canberra, members of the World Heritage Committee-including leading fossil fuel producers Russia and Saudi Arabia-voted in Fuzhou, China, to give Australia more time for conservation.
The organization ignored the recommendation of UNESCO experts to downgrade the status of the Great Barrier Reef as a World Heritage Site due to the sharp decline of corals, instead of telling Australia to report the status of the Great Barrier Reef before 2022.
Since 2016, this 2,300-kilometer (1,400-mile-long) ecosystem has suffered three large-scale coral bleaching events due to rising ocean temperatures due to global warming.
The area that was once full of vibrant coral has become a lifeless, washed-out wasteland, and it is believed that two-thirds of the coral reef has been destroyed in some way.
Despite the damage, the coral reef is still an important tourist attraction in Australia, and Australia is worried that the “at risk” label may deter tourists after the pandemic.
Australian Environment Minister Susan Ley flew to Paris earlier this month to personally lobby the members of the committee, while the main ambassador was invited to participate in a coral reef snorkeling trip.
On Friday, Ley welcomed the decision and thanked “the distinguished representative for acknowledging Australia’s commitment to protecting the Great Barrier Reef.”
Selina Ward, a coral reef scientist at Queen’s University, said the government needs to take “significant action” to stop the destruction.
“There is no doubt that the Great Barrier is seriously threatened,” Ward told Al Jazeera.
“The data is there. The Great Barrier Reef is still beautiful and we can still save it, but we are getting more and more frequent large-scale bleaching events, which often leads to a large number of deaths on the Great Barrier Reef… We are industrializing the coastline of the Great Barrier Reef. , Which adds to the water quality problem…
“We have lost a considerable part of the Great Barrier Reef. If we do not take significant action on climate change, we will have more and more bleaching events and the Great Barrier Reef will not have time to recover,” she added.
Environmental groups condemned the decision as a political stitch.
“This is a victory for one of the most cynical lobbying efforts in recent history,” said David Ritter, CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific.
“This is not an achievement-it is a day of shame for the Australian government.”
As @UNESCO As the process unfolded, politics has suppressed the truth, which is becoming painfully clear.
-David Ritter (@David_Ritter) July 23, 2021
In 2015, Australia successfully launched a similar diplomatic campaign and pledged to invest billions of dollars in coral reef protection, so the decision on the status of coral reefs has been delayed.
“This is history repeating itself,” said Will Steven, a spokesperson for the Climate Commission. “Australia must stop reviewing science and start taking the steps we know are needed to help protect coral reefs,” he added.
Although Australian government scientists say corals have shown signs of recovery in the past 12 months, they acknowledge that the long-term prospects for coral reefs are still “very bad”.
In addition to coral bleaching, coral reefs are also susceptible to damage from hurricanes and crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks, which can eat corals.
UNESCO accused Australia of failing to achieve key water quality and land management goals, and also accused the country’s conservative government of lacklustre climate efforts. Canberra is facing increasing international criticism for refusing to commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
The government has stated that it hopes to achieve its goal “as soon as possible” without harming the country’s fossil fuel-dependent economy.
After Canberra criticized the agency for relying on existing reports to make recommendations, the World Heritage Committee asked UNESCO to send a monitoring mission to inspect the coral reefs.
After Italy took action to ban large cruise ships from entering the city center, Venice also avoided the endangered list on Thursday and made this decision.
However, Liverpool’s waterfront been deleted Due to concerns about over-development, including plans for a new football stadium, it was completely removed from the list.