An international team of actors, environmentalists and scientists, including Joanna Lumley and Hollywood star Jason Momoa, have supported calls for the Great Barrier Reef to be inscribed on a list of endangered World Heritage sites.
“The scientific evidence is clear: the Great Barrier Reef is in danger and it is time to act,” the group said in a global statement released to Guardian Australia.
Later this week, the World Heritage Committee of 21 countries will be invited to put the world’s largest reef system on its list of dangers after global warming caused massive coral bleaching in 2016, 2017 and 2020.
“There is still time to save the Great Barrier Reef, but Australia and the world must act now,” the statement said, supporting a recommendation by the United Nations agency for science and culture. “We congratulate Unesco for its leadership. We urge the World Heritage Committee to endorse Unesco’s recommendation.
Signatories include actor and activist Lumley, Aquaman Momoa actor, Prince Albert of Monaco, Australian singer Cody Simpson, former UN chief climate negotiator Christiana Figueres and British endurance swimmer and United Nations patron of the oceans Lewis Pugh.
The Australian government has launched a fierce lobbying effort to block the listing after Unesco made the recommendation last month.
Australian Environment Minister Sussan Ley has been in Europe for more than a week to pressure countries against the list of dangers.
At the same time, Canberra-based diplomats from 13 countries and the EU flew to the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland, on a snorkeling trip on Thursday hosted by the Australian government.
Government Scott Morrison argues that Unesco should have carried out a follow-up mission before making its recommendation, and said the decision was political.
Unesco claims that no rules were broken and that its recommendation was based on scientific reports from its own government agencies.
The statement was hosted by the Australian Marine Conservation Society. Group CEO Darren Kindleysides said: “The influencers who have endorsed this statement come from all over the world, which shows that adoration and concern for our reef is not just for Australians.
“The reef belongs to the world and, as guardian, Australia must show global leadership on climate action to secure its future.”
Other signatories include American ocean explorer Sylvia Earle, British author and sea scientist Callum Roberts and oceanographer Philippe Cousteau, the grandson of French diving pioneer Jacques Cousteau.
Middle Eastern countries Bahrain and oil-rich Saudi Arabia have agreed to back Australia and tabled amendments asking the committee, chaired by China, to postpone the decision until at least 2023.
The 2,300 km (1,430 mile) Great Barrier Reef has been on the World Heritage List – which identifies places of importance to humanity – since 1981.
On Monday, the government’s Australian Institute of Marine Sciences said the reef had gone through a benign 12-month period, but the new growing corals were a species that would be quickly wiped out by ocean heat waves, storms and storms. coral-eating starfish.
“The predicted consequences of climate change, which include more frequent and intense massive coral bleaching events, are now a contemporary reality,” the report says.
Coral reefs are considered one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world by the climate crisis due to their sensitivity to warming oceans.
No World Heritage site has ever been placed on the “endangered” list explicitly due to the impacts of global warming.
Unesco is also asking Australia to link its reef protection policy to the Paris climate objectives of maintaining heating at 1.5 ° C.
Australia has one of the highest levels of greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the world and is also one of the world’s largest exporters of coal and liquefied gas.