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Australia blocks UNESCO from ruling the Great Barrier Reef as “in danger” from climate change

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Australia now has enough global support to avoid UNESCO listing the Great Barrier Reef as an “in danger” World Heritage Site until at least 2023

In June, the 12 countries in UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee voted for a draft ruling that the Great Barrier Reef was in danger of losing its World Heritage status due to the impacts of climate change.

Since then, Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley has been busy lobbying Europe. During her tour, she visited eight countries in a bid to gain support to reject the danger listing.

The Australian government successfully garnered support from 12 other countries to delay the decision until 2023. This is enough for a clear majority.

The countries include Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Hungary, Mali, Nigeria, Oman, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, St Kitts and Nevis, and Uganda.

Ley’s defence is the original process was politicised and didn’t follow due process including a site visit. She also alleges that UNESCO “unfairly targeted” Australia over its climate policy.

“If it is being proposed on the basis of the very real threat of global climate change, then there are any number of international World Heritage Sites that should be subject to the same process,” Ley said.

“I agree that global climate change is the single biggest threat to the world’s reefs. But it is wrong, in our view, to single out the best-managed reef in the world for an ‘in danger’ listing.”

“The question is why does the Australian government need two years to report back to the Committee if it accepts urgent action is needed?”

Coral experts in Australia have largely praised UNESCO’s suggestion to list the Great Barrier Reef as ‘in danger’. Global warming poses an immanent threat to the reef’s survival.

One climate change expert Scott Hamilton believes the Australian Federal Government isn’t doing enough to protect the reef.

“It’s time the Australian Federal Government started fighting the causes of the disease when it comes to climate change, rather than dealing with the symptoms.”

“If the Australian Federal Government spent as much effort tackling climate as it does fighting the UNESCO World Heritage body, we might actually stop destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.”

If passed, the amendment would give Australia until December 2022 to submit its case for the health of the reef. The Committee would then consider the proposal at it annual session in 2023. This typically happens in the middle of the year.

If UNESO decides to downgrade the Great Barrier Reef to ‘in danger’, it could mean trouble for Australia’s federal government. The country is due for a federal election June next year. There are also concerns that the decision could hurt international tourism.

The reef is a major income source for Central Queensland, raking in over $6 billion every day. The Great Barrier reef also supports approximately 60,000 jobs.

WWFA’s head of oceans, Richard Leck, rejected Australia’s proposed amendment.

He said, “it doesn’t change UNESCO’s technical and scientific advice recommending urgent action on climate change and water pollution”.

One report found that if the earth warms by 2 degrees, it will mean certain destruction for 99% of the reef. Three major bleaching events since 2016 have also posed a huge risk to the reef.

Although most developed countries are aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050 or earlier, Australia is yet to set a deadline to reach net zero emissions.

Natasha is an Associate Producer at ticker NEWS with a Bachelor of arts from Monash University. She has previously worked at Sky News Australia and Monash University as an Online Content Producer.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Terry

    July 22, 2021 at 9:07 pm

    As usual the federal government has in mind the big petrol companies and coal mining giants and not the environment…
    They play the delaying game and throw a bit of China threat in the recipe…
    I do hope that the Aussies we do not forget these games next year…

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Climate

New report suggests ‘throwaway economy’ thwarting climate goals

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New research shows countries are neglecting the massive impact of the “throw-away” economy on planet-warming emissions

Scientists found that more than half a trillion tonnes of virgin materials have been consumed since the 2015 Paris climate deal.

The Circle Economy report found 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions are linked to the manufacturing and use of products.

But the report found that if economies were more circular, then the world could meet the Paris target of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

A third of nations’ climate pledges mention the circular economy as part of their emissions goals, according to the report.

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Climate

Researchers discover why pandas gain weight on bamboo diet

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We’re always told to eat your greens, but this isn’t the case for pandas

A new Study finds exactly how pandas gain weight… even though they only eat bamboo

Pandas eat between 26 to 84 pounds of bamboo each day and It turns out the animals’ gut bacteria changes in the season when nutritious bamboo shoots become available.

“This is the first time we established a causal relationship between a panda’s gut microbiota and its phenotype,” says Guangping Huang, one of the study’s authors.

“We’ve known these pandas have a different set of gut microbiota during the shoot-eating season for a long time, and it’s very obvious that they are chubbier during this time of the year.”

Pandas only consume bamboo, which is a poor quality diet low in fat.

The authors believe the bacterium could lead the bears to store more fat.

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Climate

Historic mission – first spacecraft to touch the sun

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has officially become the first spacecraft to touch the sun

This achievement comes 60 years after the space agency set the goal… and three years after the Parker Solar Probe was launched.

The spacecraft flew through the sun’s corona… which is its upper atmosphere… in a bid to “sample particles and our star’s magnetic fields”.

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate says “not only does this milestone provide us with deeper insights into our Sun’s evolution and (its) impacts on our solar system, but everything we learn about our own star also teaches us more about stars in the rest of the universe.”

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