Meet the young Queenslanders urging the UN to list the Great Barrier Reef as ‘in danger’ due to climate change

We’re representing three young leaders from Queensland, who are stepping up their fight to protect the Great Barrier Reef by writing to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.  

Time is running out to protect The Great Barrier Reef. Now is the window for urgent action. 

On behalf of the young Queenslanders, EJA has written a letter to UNESCO arguing that the federal government has failed to meet its obligations under the 1972 World Heritage Convention and the Paris Agreement and to protect the Reef from its most serious threat – climate change.   

In their letter, Claire Galvin, 20, from Cairns, Brooklyn O’Hearn, 18, from Townsville and Ava Shearer, 17, from Port Douglas share their incredible experiences of growing up next to the Reef and experiencing its wonder firsthand.  

They are now fighting for a safer and healthier future for the Reef, and urging the UN to list the Great Barrier Reef as ‘in danger’ due to the risk from climate change, and the federal government’s dependence on fossil fuels.  

Brooklyn and Claire are two of the three Queenslanders urging for stronger action to protect the Reef

Ava Shearer

Claire Galvin 

Brooklyn O’Hearn

Ava Shearer

You might remember that earlier this year UNESCO recommended the Reef be added to the ‘List of World Heritage in Danger.’ This would have put pressure on the federal government to face up to the threat of climate on the Reef on an international scale.  

But, following alleged persistent lobbying by the Federal government, UNESCO deferred the decision.  

In response, Claire, Brooklyn and Ava are stepping up their fight to protect the Reef by piling the pressure onto our government to protect it.  

In addition to the letter to UNESCO, our clients are calling on Environment Minister Sussan Ley to revoke approval for the Adani coalmine, which poses serious and irreversible threats to the Reef.  

According to Claire, Brooklyn and Ava, the federal government’s persistent approval of new fossil fuel projects cancels out any action needed to prevent further damage to the Reef.  

“Having grown up next to the Reef, each of us fell in love with the Great Barrier Reef at a very young age and feel a very deep connection to it and its immense beauty. We know that the Great Barrier Reef is in imminent danger due to human-induced climate change. Rather than shift towards a renewable future which would help secure this Australian icon for our generation and those to come, our government continues to green light more fossil fuel projects, including Adani’s coal mine, which contradicts what the science tells us is needed.”

– Claire, Brooklyn and Ava

Meet their lawyer 

“As a signatory to the 1972 World Heritage Convention, Australia has a responsibility to ensure our magnificent natural world is kept intact for generations to come. The Morrison government continues to approve coal and gas projects which lock in emissions for decades to come and are debilitating to the health of our reef and the ecosystems it supports.”

– Elke Nicholson, EJA lawyer

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