The Great Barrier Reef should be added to a list of world heritage sites that are “in danger,” according to United Nations officials, a move Australian officials plan to challenge as politically motivated.
UNESCO, the world body’s educational, scientific and cultural agency, on Monday recommended placing the massive coral ecosystem on the list, ahead of a July meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Fuzhou, China.
The UNESCO report urges Australia to take “accelerated action at all possible levels” to address the threat from climate change. Australia is one of the only wealthy nations that has not pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, and is facing pressure to do so.
The country’s environment minister, Sussan Ley, said in a statement on Tuesday that Australia would “strongly oppose” the draft recommendation, which she said was a “backflip on previous assurances from U.N. officials.”
“We have been singled out,” she said in an interview on Australia’s state broadcaster. “There’s about 82 properties that are at risk of climate change … and they’ve singled out Australia for this unprecedented approach.”