Labor informs Unesco that Australia is making progress towards meeting necessary climate targets to safeguard the Great Barrier Reef.
The Albanese administration has stated that it is making progress towards achieving national climate goals that align with limiting global warming to 1.5C. This update was provided in a report to Unesco regarding efforts to preserve the Great Barrier Reef.
The federal and Queensland governments are making efforts to persuade Unesco against suggesting that the largest coral reef system in the world be added to a list of world heritage sites in danger. A decision will be made at a meeting in India in July.
In the previous year, the 21-country world heritage committee of Unesco accepted Unesco’s suggestions for Australia to submit a report by February 1st. The report would assess the progress made on a list of concerns, which includes addressing issues such as water quality, sustainable fishing, and climate change.
According to the government’s report, Australia has made 21 commitments to Unesco in order to preserve the Great Barrier Reef and prevent it from being placed on the “in danger” list. Of these commitments, 10 are currently being fulfilled, nine have been completed, and two are still in progress.
The world heritage committee has urged Australia to enhance their Reef 2050 plan in regards to climate change. This includes implementing clear government commitments to decrease greenhouse emissions, in line with efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. This action would help mitigate the effects of global warming on the reef.
Human activities, specifically the burning of fossil fuels, are the main contributor to the increase in global temperatures. As a result, ocean temperatures are rising. Out of all the ecosystems, coral reefs are particularly vulnerable to this phenomenon.
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Since 1998, the Great Barrier Reef has experienced six instances of mass bleaching. Scientists are worried that the recent occurrence of two cyclones this summer may have resulted in additional harm due to wave damage and flood plumes.
The federal government has submitted a report to Unesco’s World Heritage Centre in Paris, stating its commitment to progressively increasing emissions reduction targets in order to align with the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C.
The Climate Change Authority, an independent organization, is expected to provide recommendations to the climate change and energy minister, Chris Bowen, later this year on Australia’s emissions reduction goal for 2035. Australia has already committed to a target of net zero emissions by 2050 and a 43% reduction by 2030.
Yet, findings from two prominent researchers who contribute to the United Nations’ climate panel’s worldwide evaluation of climate objectives have proposed that Australia would have to establish a target of 90% by 2035 in order to fulfill its responsibility in limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C.
For many years, experts from the UN have expressed worry about the slow progress in decreasing the amount of sediment, nutrients, and pollution that flow into the waters of the reef.
The government announced that a portion of the $1.2 billion funding package, totaling $534 million, will be used to expedite efforts towards achieving water quality goals by 2030.
By the end of 2023, Queensland had not fulfilled its promise to implement a sustainable fisheries strategy and was still in the process of finalizing plans to eliminate gillnet fishing from the northern area of the reef.
According to Tanya Plibersek, the Minister of the Environment, the Labor party is taking action on climate change, enhancing water quality in local areas, safeguarding marine life, addressing invasive species, and allocating a significant amount of funds towards reef programs.
Unesco and its scientific advisors from the International Union for Conservation of Nature will review the government’s report and provide recommendations for the upcoming July meeting of the World Heritage Committee in New Delhi.
The government plans to unveil a strategy on Friday to revive and safeguard wetlands in the Great Barrier Reef’s catchment area.