Truth the casualty of politics as UNESCO Great Barrier Reef decision flouts reality

SYDNEY, July 23 2021 - The World Heritage Committee’s failure to officially declare the Great Barrier Reef “in danger” is a missed opportunity to shine a light on the Australian Government’s neglect of a natural wonder that remains at great risk due to the impacts of climate change, according to Greenpeace.

The highly-anticipated announcement was made late on Friday evening following a UNESCO warning last month that the long-term outlook for the Reef had further deteriorated “from poor to very poor.”

Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter said the Morrison government had abandoned its obligations to protect the Reef.

“Under the UNESCO treaty, the Australian government promised the world it would do its utmost to protect the Reef – instead it has done its utmost to hide the truth,” he said. 

“This is a victory for one of the most cynical lobbying efforts in recent history. 

“This is not an achievement – it is a day of shame for the Australian government.”

Despite the International Union for Conservation of Nature stating that the Reef “unambiguously” met the criteria to be declared a World Heritage site in danger, Australia’s lobbying efforts were successful and a majority of UNESCO committee members did not support the listing.

“Imagine if the Australian Government put as much effort, time and money into protecting our natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef through climate action, rather than playing politics and refusing to take action,” he said.

“Climate change is the number one threat to the Great Barrier Reef – and the Australian government has no credible plan for cutting emissions, no climate target and continues to promote and subsidise the mining and burning of coal, oil and gas that are the number one drivers of global warming”.

“Jetsetting around the world, at great expense to taxpayers, to block a decision that would demand climate action is a slap in the face to all Australians who love and care about our beautiful Reef.”

“In order to do its bit to give the Reef the fighting chance it deserves, the Australian Government must come up with a plan to replace all coal-burning power stations with clean and safe renewables energy by 2030 and commit to net-zero by 2035.”


Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications and Campaign Officer, Martin Zavan

+61 424 295 422

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