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A new report has ranked Australia last for climate action out of the 193 member states of the United Nations.

The latest edition of the annual Sustainable Development Report, produced by the UN-backed Sustainable Development Solutions Network, assessed countries’ performance. Under Sustainable Development Goal 13, Climate Action, it assessed progress towards adopting affordable and clean energy and climate action goals. Australia had the worst performance due to its fossil fuel use and exports, and the lack of effective carbon pricing.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) said the report findings should be a reality check for the Australian government, which is currently lobbying the World Heritage Committee not to place the Great Barrier Reef on the World Heritage In Danger list.

Last week, UNESCO made a science-based recommendation that the Reef be placed ‘in danger’ due to damage caused by global heating and poor water quality. This prompted furious criticism from the Australian government that processes had not been followed and the draft decision had been politicised. UNESCO has denied those accusations.

AMCS reef campaigner David Cazzulino said: “This new report is yet more evidence that the Australian government is completely failing to do its fair share on climate change, which is what our Reef needs for a healthy future.

“Rather than committing to policies that will limit warming to 1.5 degrees celsius – a critical temperature threshold for corals – they are focussed on spin and bluster.

“This report shows just how far behind the rest of the world Australia is on emissions reduction and the transition to renewables. As custodians of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia has a huge responsibility to be a climate leader. By failing to act on climate, the Australian government is risking the future of our Reef, its unique marine life and the tens of thousands of people who rely on it for their livelihoods.”

The World Heritage Committee will meet to consider the UNESCO recommendation later this month.