Aerial photo taken on June 2, 2021 shows the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia. The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef in the Australian state of Queensland, is described as “the most beautiful marine environment on the planet” and is the main conservation target of Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, a Charitable cooperative organization that runs a series of preserving programs. XINHUA FILE PHOTO
Sydney, Australia: Australia on Friday unveiled a billion-dollar package to protect the climate-ravaged Great Barrier Reef, hoping to prevent the vast network of corals from being removed from the world’s heritage list. Unesco.
Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the nine-year, A$1 billion ($700 million) plan months after he narrowly avoided the reef being placed on Unesco’s ‘endangered’ list .
“We support the health of the reef and the economic future of Queensland tourism operators, hotel providers and communities who are at the heart of the reef economy,” Morrison said.
The move comes ahead of a general election due in May, when Morrison will need to win key Queensland seats near the reef to stay in power.
When the UN previously threatened to downgrade the reef’s World Heritage List in 2015, Australia created a “Reef 2050” plan and poured billions of dollars into protection.
The measures are thought to have halted the pace of decline, but much of the world’s largest reef system has already been damaged.
A recent study found that bleaching had affected 98% of the reef since 1998, leaving only a fraction of it intact.
The Morrison government’s support for coal and its reluctance to tackle climate change has seen the party lose support in major cities and prompted the emergence of a series of electoral challenges from climate-focused independents .
Australians are overwhelmingly in favor of action to limit climate change, after experiencing a series of disasters made worse by warming, ranging from bushfires to droughts and floods.
A 2021 poll by the Lowy Institute in Sydney found that 60% of Australians believe “global warming is a serious and urgent problem”.
Eight out of 10 Australians backed a goal of net zero emissions by 2050, which the government reluctantly adopted ahead of a historic United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, last year.
Australia’s economy, one of the world’s largest coal and gas exporters, is heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Its political parties also receive significant funds from coal and gas-related donors.