Brisbane: Australia has decided to strongly oppose the UNESCO plan to de-list it's Great Barrier Reef to "in danger" citing country's "insufficient progress" in handling climate change, the government said on Tuesday.
Calling the UN decision a 'political' move,the Environment minister Sussan Ley said Australia would mount a challenge after the "back-flip on previous assurances from UN officials", ahead of the World Heritage Committee's 44th session hosted by China next month.
Ley also opined that the decision did not consider the billions of dollars spent attempting to protect the world's largest coral reef.
"This sends a poor signal to those nations who are not making the investments in reef protection that we are making," she said in a statement.
Meanwhile, environmental campaigners highlighted that the decision highlighted Australia's lack of action to curb emissions and brought "shame" on the government.
WWF head of oceans Richard Leck commented that UNESCO recommendation is the greatest verdict that Australian government is not doing enough to protect the great barrier reef.
The UN body released its draft report on Monday recommending the reef's World Heritage status be downgraded because of its dramatic coral decline.
Apart from its ecological and scientific importantance, the 2,300-kilometre-long reef is also an economic asset for Australia, as it had provided an estimated amount of $4.8 billion a year in tourism revenue for the country's economy before the covid-19 restrictions.