Demand Australia Protect the Great Barrier Reef

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Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

Australia isn't doing enough to protect the Great Barrier Reef from the effects of climate change. Demand action now!


Australia attracts millions of snorkeling tourists and beachgoers each year, many who explore the fascinating and rapidly disappearing Great Barrier Reef1.

Illegal fishing, coastal and island developments and the threat of oil and gas drilling are threats to the reef, but nothing comes close to the damage done by climate change. In fact, the U.N. World Heritage Committee's draft report indicates that there was "no possible doubt" the reef is "facing ascertained danger" due to climate change2.

Rising sea temperatures can lead to heat stress and mass coral bleaching. The reef is already struggling to grow enough skeletal structure to provide habitat for the diverse and vibrant marine life off the Queensland coast3.

The committee proposed adding the Great Barrier Reef to UNESCO's List of World Heritage in Danger, a move that could create a monitoring role for UNESCO to put in place "corrective measures" to reduce emissions, which it said are harming the reef and its marine life4.

Sadly, the Australian government has made it clear that any attempt to reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions would be met with resistance5.

The reef, which was listed as a World Heritage site in 1981 by UNESCO, has lost more than half its coral in the last 30 years6.

It came close to being placed on the U.N. “in danger” list in 2015, but that was averted due to high-profile lobbying by the Australian government, which fears that losing its heritage status would lead to fewer tourists visiting the attraction.

Unesco has recommended that the reef be placed on the “in danger” list and the next version of the Queensland and federal governments’ cornerstone joint Reef 2050 policy should be explicit about how Australia will bring greenhouse gas emissions down in line with the Paris climate agreement7.

We must take action now before it is too late. Sign the petition and tell the Prime Minister of Australia to bring greenhouse gas emissions down in line with the Paris climate agreement to stop climate change from causing irreparable damage on the Great Barrier Reef.

More on this issue:

  1. Adela Suliman, NBC News (22 June 2021), "Australia rejects U.N. climate warning over Great Barrier Reef status."
  2. World Heritage Committee, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (July 2021), "Convention Concerning the Protection Of The World Cultural And Natural Heritage."
  3. Great Barrier Reef Foundation (2021), "Climate Change."
  4. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Center (July 2021), "List of World Heritage in Danger."
  5. Graham Readfearn, The Guardian (4 June 2021), "UN body pushed to demand stronger climate action from Australia to save Great Barrier Reef."
  6. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Center (2021), Great Barrier Reef."
  7. Graham Readfearn, The Guardian (26 June 2021), "Why Australia’s Great Barrier Reef may end up on the world heritage ‘in danger’ list – and what it means."
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The Petition:

Dear Prime Minister of Australia,

Climate change is currently the biggest threat to the future of the Great Barrier Reef, and if the government of Australia fails to bring greenhouse gas emissions under the limits recommended by the United Nations, it may soon disappear forever.

Rising sea temperatures can lead to heat stress and mass coral bleaching. The reef is already struggling to grow enough skeletal structure to provide habitat for the diverse and vibrant marine life off the Queensland coast.

Once the reef is gone, even small changes in sea level could mean mainland inundation, destroying the mangroves that once held coastlines firm, and flooding saltwater into low-lying freshwater habitats.

The reef is facing the greatest struggle for life it has ever experienced, and it does not have to be this way. Unesco has recommended that the reef be placed on the “in danger” list for now, while the next version of the Queensland and federal governments’ cornerstone joint Reef 2050 policy must define how Australia will bring greenhouse gas emissions down in line with the Paris climate agreement.

I demand you follow these recommendations, bring your country's greenhouse gas emissions in line with levels set at the Paris agreement and save the Great Barrier Reef!

Sincerely,

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Signatures: