SYDNEY, 25 JUNE 2024 – Following an overnight report from UNESCO urging Australia to set more ambitious climate targets for the Great Barrier Reef but leaving the World Heritage site off the ‘in danger’ list, Greenpeace Australia Pacific has urged the government not to waste this reprieve and expedite the transition away from fossil fuels. 

“Australia has once again got off the hook, and must not squander yet another last chance UNESCO has given us to show we are serious about securing a safe future for the actual Great Barrier Reef,” said David Ritter, CEO, Greenpeace Australia Pacific. 

“UNESCO has asked Australia to set more ambitious climate targets, and given us a February 2025 deadline to submit a progress report—the clock is ticking for the Labor government to deliver genuine action, and the world is watching. 

“Beyond the UNESCO process, the scientific reality remains unchanged. The Great Barrier Reef has just experienced a seventh mass bleaching event—the fifth in just eight years—and climate change is the biggest threat to its survival. 

“Every tonne of greenhouse gas emissions worsens climate change, shrinking the survival chances of the Great Barrier Reef and all coral reefs worldwide. Rapidly transitioning away from fossil fuels is essential for the reef’s future.

“UNESCO’s warning should be a wake-up call for us all to tune out cynical attempts by vested interests to slow down the transition away from fossil fuels, and re-ignite the climate wars. We need our elected leaders to stay laser focused on cutting emissions at emergency speed and scale. 

“Minister Tanya Plibersek has correctly pointed out that Australia has a duty to safeguard the reef. She has an instrumental role in fulfilling this duty by heeding the science and ending approvals for new coal and gas projects. 

“The most polluting fossil fuel project currently proposed in Australia, and the fifth most polluting gas project in the world, Woodside’s Burrup Hub, will soon come before Minister Plibersek for assessment. Approving the Burrup Hub is fundamentally incompatible with our global duty of care to the Great Barrier Reef, and the people who rely on it.

“UNESCO has also expressed concern about high rates of land clearing in catchments that flow into the reef, underscoring the urgent need for legislative change and corporate action to end deforestation in Australia,” said Mr Ritter. 


For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Vai Shah on 0452 290 082 or [email protected]

Greenpeace Australia Pacific is a global independent campaigning organisation that uses peaceful protest and creative confrontation to expose environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.