Australia’s government achieved its own peculiar climate goal last week: It managed to prevent the Great Barrier Reef from being listed as “in danger” due to climate change by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. UNESCO has been concerned about the reef’s status since at least 2012, and a draft decision published by the panel in June recommended the danger designation. In the end, however, Australia’s aggressive lobbying of other countries on the committee — including fellow climate laggards Russia, Oman and Saudi Arabia — paid off, at least for now.
The Great Barrier Reef — actually a mass of reefs that stretches 3,000 kilometers along the northeastern Queensland coastline — is important to Australia. Much-cited figures from a 2017 report by consulting firm Deloitte put the reef’s value at 56 billion Australian dollars ($41.4 billion), supporting 64,000 jobs and adding AU$6.4 billion to the economy each year.
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