World Heritage and Climate Change

In collaboration with Earthjustice, we have released a report asking the World Heritage Committee to take action in protecting the Great Barrier Reef from the devastating effects of climate change.

The legal report, World Heritage and Climate Change: The Legal Responsibility of States to Reduce Their Contributions to Climate Change – A Great Barrier Reef Case Study, concludes that all nations with World Heritage-listed corals must minimise non-climate reef threats such as pollution and overfishing. Nations with significant carbon dioxide emissions and substantial economic and technical capacity to act (for example, Australia) have an additional obligation to take serious and effective action to reduce their contributions to climate change, including by not authorising the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure.

 “Australia is custodian of the Great Barrier Reef and has primary responsibility under the World Heritage Convention to protect and conserve the Reef...It must take serious and effective action to reduce its current greenhouse gas emissions, and cease the construction of new fossil fuel extraction infrastructure that will lock in decades of greenhouse gas emissions...Australia is permitting the development of massive new coal mines that will contribute substantially to climate change and to the further deterioration of the Great Barrier Reef. This is nothing short of negligent, given its obligations to protect our priceless World Heritage” - Ariane Wilkinson, Lawyer at EJA

Read the report: World Heritage and Climate Change: The Legal Responsibility of States to Reduce Their Contributions to Climate Change – A Great Barrier Reef Case Study (PDF, 2.4MB)


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