UNESCO to Downgrade Great Barrier Reef’s World Heritage Site Status to “In Danger”

The World Heritage Committee under UNESCO has proposed to downgrade the status of the Great Barrier Reef for adding to the list of World Heritage sites “in danger.” The recommendation was made after observing the detrimental impact of climate change.

The UNESCO committee said the world’s biggest coral reef system should be included on the list owing to the impact of changing climatic conditions. The decision has prompted an angry response from Australia, saying it had been blindsided by the move and blamed political intrusion.

Australia has been trying to keep the Great Barrier Reef off the “in danger” list. In 2015, UNESCO recognized the condition of the reef as poor but kept the site’s status unchanged. Since then, it has suffered three major coral bleaching events due to severe marine heatwaves amid climate change.

UNESCO to Downgrade Great Barrier Reef’s World Heritage Site Status to “In Danger”

Image: cool chap/Fotolia

The committee justified its recommendation by saying that there is no iota of doubt that the network of colorful corals off Australia’s northeast coast was “facing ascertained danger.”

Meanwhile, environmental groups rejected Australia’s assertion that the recommendation was made of political interference. According to Richard Leck, Head of Oceans for the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia,

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.

The recommendation will be considered for the final move at a meeting of the committee in China next month, which undercuts Australia’s claims that it is taking climate change seriously. The country’s reliance on coal-fired power makes it one of the world’s largest carbon emitters per capita, arguing tougher actions on emissions would cost jobs.

Australia has said that it will fight against plans to downgrade the Great Barrier Reef’s World Heritage status, while environmentalists have applauded the proposal. Australia’s Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said that the decision was flawed and Canberra has been assured that there would be no proposal on the reef by the UN before July.

Via: The Hindu

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