Australian officials will dispute a recommendation by a UN committee headed by China that the Great Barrier Reef should be added to the list of “in danger” World Heritage Sites, arguing that the shock decision was politically motivated.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Committee (UNESCO) has said in a draft recommendation that the world’s largest coral reef system should be added to the list due to the effects of climate change.
The Great Barrier Reef supports thousands of Australian jobs and is a major tourist attraction that Australia has struggled to keep off the “at risk” list for years. In 2015, UNESCO noted that the outlook for the reef was poor but kept the status of the site unchanged.
Environment Minister Susan Ley believes Australia has been chosen by the United Nations committee, whose member states control the World Heritage List, in a way that “completely distorts the normal process”, while Given that UNESCO has about 82 other “properties”. Considered “at risk of climate change”.
“They have taken this unprecedented approach to Australia without foreseeing the decision against the advice given only a week ago, and in a way it doesn’t make sense,” she said. told abc on June 22.
Le said the appropriate place to debate climate change policy was the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change, not UNESCO.
“I’ll stand anywhere and say” [the Great Barrier Reef is] The best managed reef anywhere in the world,” she said, adding that Australia had invested $3 billion under the Reef 2050 plan.
age Reported That take also noted that the decision was made “without a first-hand investigation, and without the latest information”.
She said she and Foreign Minister Maris Payne spoke overnight with UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.
“We were clear that we would challenge this decision when it came later in July,” she said.
Elsewhere, Le said UNESCO’s decision was flawed and politically motivated.
While Le did not elaborate why he said it was politically motivated, the World Heritage Committee is chaired by China’s Deputy Minister of Education Tian Xujun. Australia has faced increasingly aggressive economic pressure by Beijing in retaliation after it called for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
Beijing has since moved to limit imports to eight Australian exports, including barley, beef, cotton and seafood.
Chinese officials also have influence over three UN committees that are part of the World Heritage Committee. Fang Jing is the Head of the Asia and Pacific Unit at the World Heritage Centre, Jing Kuo is the Deputy Director General of UNESCO, and Zhang Xinsheng is the President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Australian MP George Christensen pointed to Beijing’s influence on the World Heritage Committee, saying, “A United Nations committee led by Communist China has decided to target Australia, claiming that the Great Barrier Reef is in danger That’s when the health of the reef is actually improving.”
In addition, while the rest of the world sets global emissions reduction targets tied to struggling marine ecosystems, China last year created three times more coal power capacity than other countries around the world—more than one large Plant per week equivalent to coal (PDF)
Figures from the Global Coal Plant Tracker update by the Global Energy Monitor and the Center for Research on Energy and Clear Air show that China has commissioned more than 73 gigawatts of new coal power projects, five times more than all other countries. Simultaneously, there has also been a spurt in construction permits for new coal projects.
Meanwhile, environmental groups rejected Lay’s claim that the recommendation was political.
“The UNESCO recommendation is clear and clear that the Australian government is not doing enough to protect our greatest natural wealth, especially on climate change,” said Richard Lake, head of the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia’s Oceans.
The UN recommendation will be considered at a meeting of the World Heritage Committee in China next month.