The Great Barrier reef has undergone three major coral bleaching events over the last five years, and since 1995 has lost half its corals as sea temperatures rise.
The UNESCO proposal says it’s vital for Australia to follow up on the recommendations of the 2019 report, which called for ‘accelerated action to mitigate climate change and improve water quality.’.
The UN body published a draft report on Monday advising that the reef’s status should be downgraded to world heritage status because of dramatic coral extinction.
“with the utmost concern and regret… that the long-term outlook for the ecosystem of the property has further deteriorated from poor to very poor.”Martin Zavan
Australia commended the reef improvements efforts and financial commitments it had undertaken, but noted “with particular concern and regret” that the long-term prospects for the property’s ecosystem had further deteriorated, from “very poor to very poor.”
Environment Minister Sussan Ley and Foreign Minister Marise Payne phoned UNESCO’s Director-General on Monday night to express their ‘strong disappointment’ and ‘dismay’ at a move that Australia would challenge, Ms Ley confirmed.
Australia has resisted calls to set a target of net zero emissions by 2050, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying the federal government hopes to achieve a “carbon neutral development””as soon as possible” while remaining compatible with the resource-dependent economy.
A study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society Journal last October reported that half of the reef’s coral had been dead in the past 25 years.
Bleaching occurs when changes in sea temperatures affect healthy coral, which causes them to eject algae living in their tissues – depriving them of their bright colors.