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.
Europe is preparing for winter: how can you keep costs down?
Britain is facing a surge in cold weather, with icy conditions and fog expected for much of this week
The UK Met Office has issued a Yellow warning, which means there could be damage to buildings as Britons brace for cold conditions.
Like much of Europe, the UK are bracing for very strong winds on Wednesday, causing disruption to travel and some utilities.
Drivers are also urged to take extra care on the roads, with warnings in place for icy stretches forming on UK roads.
But some residents who are seeking to heat their homes are on edge, as power prices remain high.
Peter Smith is the director of policy and advocacy at National Energy Action, who said the rising cost of living is impacting Britons.
“The average annual bill has almost doubled since this time last year.”
The organisation seeks to close the gaps when it comes to energy affordability. It predicts 6.7 million UK households will be in fuel poverty in the coming months.
This means millions of Britons will be unable to afford living in a warm, dry and safe home.
“So far the milder than usual weather has protected many from the spiralling bills as they haven’t needed to heat their homes as high or as long as usual,” Mr Smith said.
How to keep warm without blowing your bill
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has urged people to make their own decisions, as he met with world leaders in tropical Bali last week.
“There are things that we can do—all of us—to improve the efficiency with which we use energy, to be careful about it,” he said.
For example, an efficient heater; taking advantage of the sun, where appropriate; and rearranging furniture are some cost-effective methods to reduce the burden on gas and energy bills.
In addition, there are some other cheap ways to reduce dependence on gas and electricity bills, as the temperature continue to plunge.
- close off rooms you’re not using
- lower the temperature of heating
- make sure windows are fully closed
- block cold drafts from under doors using door snakes or carpet.
The UK Government has placed a cap freeze on energy prices.
This means households will pay an average £2,500 on their energy bills. But there is a catch: if households use more, they pay more.
National Energy Action believes an additional 2.2 million homes could be in fuel poverty, when compared to the same time last year.
Why are energy prices so high?
As demand increases, so too does the cost of heating homes.
But there is another factor, which has sent prices rising across Europe: the war in Ukraine.
However, countries are struggling to find alternative supplies after sanctioning Moscow for the ongoing conflict.
Germany halted the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was expected to double the amount of Russian gas shipped to Europe.
In July, Russia cut the amount of gas pumped through Nord Stream 1 to 20 per cent capacity.
Hoax call between Polish and “French” Presidents
Poland President Andrezj Duda spoke to a hoaxer posing as France counterpart Emmanuel Macron, on the night a missile hit near the Poland-Ukraine border.
The news was confirmed after two Russian pranksters, Vovan and Lexus, posted a recording of the incident, and Duda’s office also affirmed the incident.
During the call, Duda was asking who was responsible for the attack on November 15, wanting to avoid a war with Russia.
The missile landed six kilometres from the border.
Initial reports suggested the missile was Russian-made, but it was later discovered to likely be a Ukrainian air defence missile.
This is the second time the pranksters have targeted the Poland President, who have made their names going after celebrities and politicians, especially those opposed to the Kremlin.
Russian missiles hit NATO territory, killing two
Russian missile hits Poland, as the west assesses the attack on a NATO member
Reports a Russian missile has landed in Poland, killing two people. A projectile struck an area where grain was drying in the village of Przewodów, near the Ukraine border.
An anonymous U.S. intelligence official suggested a barrage of Russian missiles hit the Ukrainian power grid, and spilt into neighbouring Poland.
Poland is a NATO member, therefore, this signifies a potential escalation to the ongoing war. It also marks the first time weapons have impacted a NATO country.
Currently, the Polish government are holding urgent talks. A Polish spokesman Piotr Mueller has confirmed that top leaders are holding an emergency meeting regarding the “crisis situation.”
Under Article 5 of NATO, an attack on one country is considered an attack on all.
The White House has not confirmed the reports but the Pentagon is assessing the situation.
While NATO has taken collective defence measures on several occasions, including in response to the situation in Syria and the Russian invasion of Ukraine—it has only invoked Article 5 once.
For the first time in its history after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States, NATO evoked Article 5 and came to the defence of the United States.
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