Professor Lesley Hughes responds to Sussan Ley and UNESCO’s Great Barrier Reef draft status

01.07.21 By

Environment Minister Sussan Ley is wilfully misinterpreting UNESCO’s decision to classify the Great Barrier Reef as ‘in danger’ (Australia shouldn’t be poster boy for climate change perils, 30 June) by suggesting that UNESCO thinks Australia alone can solve climate change.

The Federal Government has spent a lot of money on reef management strategies ranging from water quality improvements to heat resistant corals—but it has done embarrassingly little to actually reduce emissions.

Unlike most of its international trading partners and allies, the Federal Government is still refusing to commit to a net zero target, and continues to waste taxpayer money funding new fossil fuel projects. Minister Ley herself is sitting on approval papers for a coal mine expansion in NSW while rejecting a massive renewable energy hub in Western Australia.

Climate change is the single greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef. While addressing climate change certainly requires global cooperation, until the Federal Government takes emissions reduction seriously, it has no grounds to claim it is doing enough to protect one of the world’s most precious natural assets.


Read our 2018 report on the impact of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef