Media Release Climate Change

The World Heritage Committee’s climate and corals decision puts the heat on Australia

July 10, 2017

Krakow, Poland: UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee today called for the most ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement yet to save the Great Barrier Reef and the 28 other World Heritage listed coral reefs.

“Last week the Australian government bragged that the Great Barrier Reef was not put on the In Danger list at this meeting,” said Imogen Zethoven, Director of the Australian Marine Conservation Society’s Fight For Our Reef campaign, on site at the 41st Committee meeting in Poland.

“However, this week the Australian government should be worried. It knows very well that it is still on probation with the World Heritage Committee. This decision means Australia needs to rapidly reduce carbon pollution and reject new coal mines – otherwise our Reef is at great risk of being placed on the World Heritage In Danger list in 2020.

“Australia is very far indeed from protecting our global icon through actions to address climate change. Our current policies are, in fact, putting our Reef in grave danger.”

“If all countries in the world made the same level of effort as Australia, global temperatures would rise to between 3-4 degrees celsius – killing all the world’s coral reefs.”

“The Australian government claims to care deeply about our Reef, but words come cheap.

“Actions count, but the actions the Australian government has taken are to approve Adani’s massive coal mine and adopt an extremely weak carbon pollution reduction target,” Ms Zethoven said.

The World Heritage Committee expressed its “utmost concern” about the “serious impacts from coral bleaching” that affected World Heritage listed coral reefs in 2016-17 and its “utmost concern” that they will be seriously impacted in the future.

It called on member states to undertake actions to address climate change that are fully consistent with their legal obligations to protect the Outstanding Universal Value of all World Heritage properties.

“The Australian government must now, more than ever, rule out any new coal mines and urgently develop a climate policy that will protect our global icon. It must do its fair share of the global effort to reduce pollution.

“If it doesn’t, the World Heritage Committee should hold Australia to account for failing to tackle the single greatest threat to our Great Barrier Reef – and for putting all other World Heritage coral reefs at risk,” Ms Zethoven said.

For interviews and more information contact:

Ingrid Neilson, AMCS Communications Manager, 0421 972 731, [email protected]

Imogen Zethoven, Fight For Our Reef Director, 0431 565 495, [email protected]

Fight For Our Reef Campaign Director Imogen Zethoven, AO, is currently in Krakow, Poland at the 41st World Heritage Committee. Ms Zethoven is available for interviews.