Australia argues against ‘endangered’ Barrier Reef status

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29 November 2022

Australia’s environment minister said Tuesday her government will lobby against UNESCO adding the Great Barrier Reef to a list of endangered World Heritage sites, arguing that criticisms of government inaction on climate change were outdated.

Officials from the U.N. cultural agency and the International Union for Conservation of Nature released a report on Monday warning that without “ambitious, rapid and sustained” climate action, the world’s largest coral reef is in peril.

The report, which recommended shifting the Great Barrier Reef to endangered status, followed a 10-day mission in March to the famed reef system off Australia’s northeast coast that was added to the World Heritage list in 1981.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said the report was a reflection on Australia’s previous conservative government, which was voted out of office in May elections after nine years in power.

She said the new center-left Labor Party government has already addressed several of the report’s concerns, including action on climate change.

“We’ll very clearly make the point to UNESCO that there is no need to single the Great Barrier Reef out in this way” with an endangered listing, Plibersek told reporters.