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Australia to push against inclusion of Great Barrier Reef on World Heritage in Danger list

Australia’s environment minister said today that the government will push against the inclusion of the Great Barrier Reef on the list of endangered World Heritage sites.

A report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, released on Monday, warned of the need for “ambitious, rapid and sustained” action and without the which the largest reef in the world is in danger.

The document recommended that the Great Barrier Reef be included on a list of endangered sites, in line with the recommendations of a mission, carried out in March, to the reef system off the northeast coast of Australia, added to the World Heritage list of UNESCO in 1981.

“We are going to make it very clear to UNESCO that there is no need to isolate the Great Barrier Reef in this way,” Tanya Plibersek told reporters.

The new centre-left Labor government, elected in May, has already addressed several of the concerns in the report, including action on climate change, he said.

Anthony Albanese’s executive legislated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030, while the previous executive, led by Scott Morrison, had only predicted a reduction of between 26% to 28% by the end of the decade.

Plibersek said the government had also committed to invest A$1.2 billion (€774 million) to care for the reef and canceled the previous government’s plans to build two large dams in the state of Queensland that would have affected the quality of the reef. reef water.

“If the Great Barrier Reef is in danger, then all of the world’s coral reefs are in danger,” said Plibersek. “If this World Heritage site is in danger, then most World Heritage sites around the world are in danger from climate change.”

The report said that the Australian federal government and Queensland authorities should adopt more ambitious emissions reduction targets in line with international efforts to limit future warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The action of the Australian authorities will be reviewed before UNESCO, based in Paris, presents any official proposal to the World Heritage Committee. In 2021, the venue managed to remain off the “black list”.

In March, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority had confirmed that the site, the world’s largest coral system, with a surface area of ​​348,000 square kilometres, was experiencing “worrying and severe” massive coral bleaching, after of important bleachings in 1998, 2002, 2016, 2017 and 2020.

The reef, whose status began to be classified, at the end of 2020, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature from “significant concern” to “critical” – the worst conservation denomination – continues to be threatened by climate change.

Home to 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 varieties of molluscs, the Great Barrier Reef began to deteriorate in the 1990s due to the impact of warming seawater and increased acidity from the increasing presence of carbon dioxide. (CO2) in the atmosphere.

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