Why Polish gangster films ‘on steroids’ are making it big at the British box office

With titles such as Pitbull and Mafia Women, violent Polish-language thrillers are demonstrating a cult success some even denting the UK top 10. But can they win over mainstream audiences?

It is a late Saturday afternoon in Walthamstow , north-east London, and business is slow at the Empire cinema, as it usually is on hot days. Nevertheless, 13 people have chosen a brutal thriller over an extra few hours in the sunshine. Pitbull: Last Dog, which opened the previous weekend on 279 screens, will have escaped the attention of most cinemagoers. It’s certainly more stomach-churning than the average multiplex fare. One female has her throat slashed in the first five minutes; another is placed under a carpet and then beaten violently with belts by a gang of thugs. A dead man is shot in the mouth at point-blank scope, while a crook pouring acid on a corpse tells his cohort charmingly:” If you make it without puking, I’ll buy you a whore .”

Pitbull: Ostatni pies( Pitbull: Last Dog ) is the latest in a run of movies to have dented the UK box office top 10 despite being marketed exclusively at the Polish community.( At the time of writing it has taken around PS340, 000.) This year has already brought one hit, Kobiety mafii( Mafia Women ), which took virtually PS900, 000 in the UK and Ireland. Last year, the grisly 18 -rated medical drama Botoks amassed PS1. 06 m, stimulating it not only the third highest-grossing foreign-language release of 2017( after Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden and the Bollywood reach Raees) but the most successful Polish cinema ever in the UK.

Menacing:
Menacing: Pitbull: Ostatni pies( Pitbull: Last Dog) is the latest in a series of hit movies

Like Bollywood, Polish cinema has flourished in UK multiplexes rather than arthouses, without any help from the British media. It is only partly true to say that the mainstream press has ignored these releases; what’s more significant is that its attention and acceptance were never sought in the first place. With Polish now the second most commonly spoken language in England, English-speaking viewers are not part of this particular success story.

The audience members I talk to after Pitbull: Last Dog are both Polish, though neither is especially impressed by what they have just seen.” It’s not as good as the other ones ,” tells Tomasz, a 40 -year-old draughtsman and fan of the two previous Pitbull instalments.” This one is softer, more American. In Polish, we would say grubymi nicmi szyte -‘ sewn with a thick thread ‘. It hangs together, but only just .” Maciej, a 41 -year-old veterinary surgeon, hasn’t seen a Polish movie in a cinema since coming to live in the UK 12 years ago.” It was like it was on steroids ,” he giggles.” It simply proved all the different ways you could kill someone. I couldn’t follow what was going on .” Did it reflect anything about Polish life or culture?” I hope not. If it’s like that, I don’t want to go back .”

Botoks
Botoks was the UK’s third highest-grossing foreign-language film of 2017

Awareness of these movies is raised largely through social media and websites, and by the hoopla surrounding the initial premieres back in Poland( Pitbull: Last Dog was released there a month ago and enjoyed the second-biggest opening weekend of any native film this year ). But what are Polish spectators here getting from these movies that they can’t get from the mainstream US equivalents?” There’s a certain mix of humour and toughness and a real eastern European vibe which Polish audiences like ,” says Joanna Michalec, director of Phoenix Productions, the leading international distributor of Polish cinemas.” I think they also like considering Poland in a movie, and what’s important is they can go to a normal multiplex and consider these films in Polish. That means a lot .”

Phoenix, which is based in Chicago, started distributing Polish movies in Britain in April 2016 after noticing interest on its Facebook page from the UK and Ireland. Its inaugural release was Pitbull. Nowe porzadki( Pitbull: New Orders ), the first of the trilogy spun off from a Polish TV series.” Polish distributors in the past released on 20 or 30 screens, but we decided to give it all we’d get ,” she says. A typical Phoenix release will now play on upwards of 250 screens, although the company has its sights defined even higher.” There are a million Polish people in the UK ,” says Paul Sweeney, Phoenix’s director of UK and Ireland strategy.” Only 10% of them come to the cinema, so part of what I’m doing is observing the ones we’re not targeting. The potential to grow is huge .”

The mainstay of Polish cinema is director Patryk Vega, a Guy Ritchie-style figure responsible for every gory, high-octane success to date with the exception of the most recent Pitbull. But not all of Phoenix’s films are violent. It also does a roaring trade in romantic slapsticks: Narzeczony na Niby( Pretend Fiance ) is about to open, while the company had a hit two years ago with Planeta Singli( Planet Single ), a lively Richard Curtis-style romcom centred on a dating app. Its Slovenian director, Mitja Okorn, currently lives in Los Angeles and lately finished constructing Life in a Year with Cara Delevingne and Jaden Smith for Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment.

Romcom
The romcom Planeta Singli( Planet Single) represents a different strand of Polish cinema

In June 2016, I attended a press screening of Planet Single introduced by Okorn, although it is unusual for non-arthouse Polish movies to be shown to the press.” I was happy with the UK release, but I always want more ,” he tells now.” What I wanted was a bigger screening, a premiere where we could get even more UK opinion-makers and journalists to watch the movie. And that’s how we could slowly build a non-Polish UK audience that would become fans of good Polish cinema. For that to work, the distributors of Polish cinemas would also need to be careful which movies they are distributing. The style it is now, they distribute everything- good, bad and extremely bad. Polish people confuse successful with good .”

Can Polish cinema draw English-speaking audiences- and does that even matter?” Utterly it matters ,” says Sweeney.” It’s an untapped marketplace that we’re trying to get into. We want to reach those viewers who are perfectly happy to watch foreign cinemas .” The problem is that the kind of Polish movies put under by Phoenix are very different from the arthouse kind. No one is going to mistake Botoks for Ida, Pawel Pawlikowski’s haunting 2014 Oscar-winner, and Vega is no Krzysztof Kieslowski.

With that in mind, Phoenix is planning to widen its slate to feature highbrow releases as well as, tell, the forthcoming Kobiety mafii sequels.” We’re looking at projects geared toward devotees of foreign cinemas in Britain ,” tells Michalec.” We have one in the pipeline that’s a Polish-British production is targeted at arty audiences who tend to avoid the multiplexes .” If Brexit is causing the company any jitters, Michalec is hiding it well.” I don’t think many Polish people will move out. I can’t see it. The community is very settled .”

Asked about his aims for the future, Sweeney doesn’t miss a beat. “My aim is simple,” he tells.” A Bafta for best foreign language movie .”

Pitbull: Last Dog is on release. Narzeczony na Niby( Pretend Fiance) is released on 4 May .

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Poland violated EU laws by logging in Biaowiea forest, court rules

Judge dismisses claims by Polish government that logging was necessary to protect ancient forest from outbreak of bark beetles

The EU’s highest court has ruled that Poland’s logging of the ancient Bialowieza forest is illegal, potentially opening the door to multi-million euro fines.

At least 10, 000 trees have been felled in Bialowieza, one of Europe’s last parcels of primeval woodland, since the former Polish environment minister, Jan Szyzko tripled logging limits there in 2016.

Government claims that the forest was bringing protected from a spruce beetle outbreak were rejected by European court of justice magistrates, who said that Poland’s own forest management plans showed that logging posed a greater threat to Bialowieza’s integrity.

A minimum fine of EUR4. 3m, potentially rising to EUR1 00,000 a day, could now be levied against Poland if the tree fells continue.

James Thornton, the chief executive of the green statute firm ClientEarth, told:” This is a huge victory for all defenders of Bialowieza forest. Hundreds of people were heavily engaged in saving this unique, ancient woodland from unthinkable demolition .”

More to follow .

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Mass protests in Poland against tightening of abortion law

Thousands join demonstrations against governments new effort to restrict access

Thousands of people have joined protests in Warsaw and other Polish cities against the most recent attempt by the conservative government to restrict access to abortion.

In Warsaw on Friday, people held banners that read “Free choice” and” A female is a human being”, and chanted mottoes demanding reproductive freedom.

Poland has one of the strictest abortion laws in Europe. The procedure is allowed only if the life of the foetus is at risk, there is a grave menace to the health of the mother or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.

An attempt to ban all abortions in 2016 sparked mass nationwide protests by females garmented in black, forcing the government to abandon the scheme.

The latest proposed legislation would allow procedures in cases where the mother’s life was at risk or the pregnancy resulted from international crimes, but would ban abortions of foetuses with congenital disorders, including Down’s syndrome.

In Warsaw, protesters gathered at the seat of the influential Roman Catholic bishops, who are urging the farther stiffen of the law. They marched to the parliament house and later moved on to the headquarters of the ruling Law and Justice party.

A protest of hundreds of people in Wroclaw included a sign that said ” I will not give birth to a dead newborn “.

Malgorzata, 58, a psychologist, told Reuters:” I am against treating female as an inferior type of human being. I support women’s rights to decide about their bodies and their lives .”

The Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Nils Muiznieks warned on Friday that the new measure ran counter to Warsaw’s human rights commitments.

” If adopted, the draft legislation would remove the possibility of terminating the pregnancy in case of severe foetal impairment, including in cases where such impairment is fatal ,” Muiznieks wrote.” This step would be at variance with Poland’s obligations under international human rights law .”

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Poland’s prime minister sacks ministers in move to mend ties with EU

Defence, foreign and environment ministers dismissed after Brussels accused Warsaw of subverting democratic values

Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish “ministers “, has dismissed several cabinet-level ministers as the ruling rightwing Law and Justice party seeks to improve strained the relationship with Brussels.

Law and Justice( PiS) is riding high in opinion polls, but remains under pressure from the European committee and several EU countries over its recent move to assert control over the country’s justice system.

In response to concerns that the rule of law was at risk in Poland, the European commission took the unprecedented step last month of initiating a process that could lead to the country being stripped of of its voting rights at EU organizations. Brussels has accused Warsaw of subverting the fundamental values expected of a democratic state by allowing political interference in its courts.

Morawiecki, a former ministers of finance, was appointed as “ministers ” in December, tasked with improving Poland’s deteriorating position in the EU.

” We are not and we don’t want to be a dogmatic, doctrinal government, or a government of socialist or neoliberal extremities ,” he said on Tuesday during a swearing-in rite for the new ministers at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw.

The most high-profile of cabinet dismissals was that of Antoni Macierewicz, a veteran legislator with ties to the radical nationalist right, whose tenure as defense pastor was dogged by fears over his radical restructuring of the armed forces, which put national security at risk. He will be replaced by Mariusz Blaszczak, who moves from interior ministry brief.

Macierewicz is likely best known in Poland as the most aggressive supporter of the claim that the 2010 Smolensk air disaster in western Russia plane crash that killed the country’s then chairman, Lech Kaczynski, and scores of senior Polish officials, was a Russian plot in collusion with PiS’s domestic political opponents. He regularly topped surveys of ministers Poles most wanted to see dismissed.

Morawiecki also dismissed the environment minister, Jan Szyszko, a former forester whose sanctioning of mass logging in Bialowieza Forest– a Unesco world heritage site- was deemed to be in contravention of European law last year, with Poland facing daily fines of EUR1 00,000( PS88, 000) if it failed to reverse course.

Witold Waszczykowski, Poland’s foreign minister since 2015, will be replaced by Jacek Czaputowicz, a prof of international relations.

Waszczykowski, a career envoy, is blamed by some within the PiS for having bungled the government’s relationship with the EU. But he will probably be best remembered in Poland as the founder of San Escobar, a non-existent country he claimed had expressed its support for Poland’s candidacy to serve as a non-permanent member of the UN security council.

However, Morawiecki maintained as justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro, the author of the sweeping changes of criminal justice systems, in a sign he backs the moves.

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The attempt by Poland’s Law and Justice party to take control of the justice system should be seen as part of a wider campaign to dismantle democratic checks and balances on the government’s actions, from its takeover of state media to its capture of the country’s constitutional tribunal.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, PiS’s leader, has developed a hypothesi known in Poland as’ impossibilism ‘, the idea that no serious reform of Polish society and organizations is possible due to these checks and balances, and what he describes as the vested interests of liberal upper-class and foreigners intent on exploiting the country.

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Tuesday’s ministerial changes also come as the EU is about to embark on negotiations on a seven-year budget which will decide which member states get what out of the bloc’s coffers – with Poland currently the biggest net recipient.

Morawiecki satisfies the European commission chairperson, Jean-Claude Juncker, for dinner in Brussels on Tuesday night. Earlier in the working day, Juncker offered an olive branch to Warsaw when he spelt out his opposition to cutting EU funds to Poland over concerns about the rule of law.

” I am in no mood to issue wild menaces. I would like us to have a reasonable dialogue ,” he said in an interview with German broadcaster ARD.

Poland is the biggest recipient of European monies and around 60% of public investment is funded by the EU. As fears rise about the rule of law in Poland and Hungary, a growing number of voices have said EU funds should be tied to satisfying democratic standards.

The commission president invited the Polish leader to dinner in Brussels to search for a compromise. Poland was given three months to rethink a modification to its judicial system.

The final step – suspending voting rights – has already been ruled out, as Hungary has vowed to veto the decision, but Brussels insiders suppose even a formal warning from a majority of other member states would have an effect.

Speaking shortly after the reshuffle was announced, Juncker’s spokesman said the commission wanted to engage with the new Polish government and “ministers “.” We have intentionally provided for a period of three months that would allow this exchange to be a productive one without the spectre of pressure .”

With local elections scheduled later this year and a parliamentary election in 2019, PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski also appears to be attempting to present a more moderate face to the Polish public.

Piotr Buras, head of the Warsaw office at the European Council of Foreign Relations, said the reshuffle was ” principally for domestic consumption”, with the secondary motive of sending a positive signal to the rest of Europe.

Since Morawiecki came to office he has increased Polish contributions to an EU-Africa fund aimed at deter migrants, as well as promised to respect ECJ rulings on to defend the ancient Bialowieza forest.

” These are symbolic issues, but it will not lead to changes on substance ,” he said, predicting the Polish government would not back down on judicial reforms that have triggered the EU’s rule-of-law process.

” The Polish government cannot take back the reform now because it would be a disaster in the sense of political communication in Poland … They would not be willing to do that, it is a no-go area .”

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‘More girls, fewer skinheads’: Poland’s far right wrestles with changing image

March for Independence may signal not a surge in support for far right but the seeping of its ideas into the mainstream

The presence of Islamophobic, homophobic, antisemitic and white supremacist chants and banners at last weekend’s March of Independence in Warsaw created fears about the rise of the far right in Poland.

But interviews with nationalist and far-right leaders and their foes reveal a more nuanced picture of a relatively marginal motion wrestling with its public image while hoping to seize the opportunities afforded to it by the success of the ruling rightwing Law and Justice party( PiS) and popular opposition to immigration from Muslim-majority countries.

Far-right insiders described a movement that has changed substantially in recent years-” more girls, fewer skinheads ,” said one- with a marked increase in middle-aged and highly educated recruits.” A decade ago if you considered us in a bar you would know we were from the far right, but if you watched us now you would have no notion ,” said one insider.

One factor in this change, they noted, was the influence on Polish society of young people returning from working in countries such as Britain.” So many young people travelled to work in western countries, and then is coming and told their friends and families what was going on in western Europe ,” said Krzysztof Bosak, of the ultra-nationalist organisation National Movement.

” They told them about the process of exchange of population, by which people of European origin is hereby replaced by people from Africa and Asia, and about Islamisation .”

Aleks Szczerbiak, a prof of politics at the University of Sussex, said:” It was long assumed that young Pole would come to the west and were becoming increasingly secular, multicultural and liberal, and that they would re-export those things back to Poland. But instead their experience of the west seems to have reinforced their social conservatism and traditionalism in many ways .”

The march’s organisers included the National-Radical Camp( ONR ), the successor to a pre-war Polish fascist motion; All-Polish Youth, a far-right youth organisation that has operated social information campaign denounced as racist; and the National Movement.

Despite their involvement, and the participation in the march of even more hardline white supremacist groups such as the National-Socialist Congress and the so-called Szturmowcy( Stormtroopers ), the marching also attracted thousands of people with little to no affiliation to nationalist or far-right groups.

To the march’s defenders, including the Polish National Foundation, a body with strong ties to Law and Justice that was put in by the government last year to” promote Poland abroad”, the international media’s focus on racist mottoes and banners amounted to” slandering the good name of Poland and an insult to the Polish people “.

” Waving the white-red national flags, the supporters of Poland’s independence, veterans, Warsaw’s dwellers and visiting guests all marched together. As in the past, a large percentage of the 60,000 -strong crowd were families with children ,” read a statement from the foundation, which described some of the media coverage as a “defamation”.

Critics argued that the presence of people with a range of political opinions at last weekend’s marching was precisely their own problems, because it amounted to a tacit acceptance of far-right extremism.” They may not all identify as nationalists, but they are being united by the language of nationalism” said Rafal Pankowski, a prof at Collegium Civitas in Warsaw and director of the Never Again association, an anti-racism campaign group.

” The fact there were families with children there doesn’t mean the march was OK, it means there is a question when people think there’s no problem with bringing their children to a far-right rally .”

Speaking to the Guardian, nationalist and far-right leaders distanced themselves from charges of racism, insisting their movements were dedicated to the preservation of Polish-Catholic culture and moral values, and not white supremacy.

” Faith is very important to us, the Catholic religion is part of Polish national identity ,” said Bosak, who served as an MP between 2005 and 2007.” We want Catholic morality and the social teaches of the church to be the base for the nation policy, for the law, for a new constitution .”

Tomasz Kalinowski, a spokesman for the ONR, said:” We have much more in common with Cardinal Robert Sarah, an African conservative traditionalist Catholic from Guinea, than we do with a pro-EU, liberal, secular legislator like Emmanuel Macron or a Polish Bolshevik like Feliks Dzerzhinsky .”

Observers argue it is enmity towards perceived western models of multiculturalism that bind the far right to the anti-immigrant populism represented by the ruling Law and Justice party- an alliance consummated per year by the March for Independence.

” The problem is not that there is a huge amount of support for far-right movements, the problem is that there is a lack of distinction between the conservative right and the far right, and that is very dangerous in a democratic society ,” said Pankowski.

Seen this way, the March for Independence signals not a surge in support for far-right motions but the seeping of far-right ideas into Polish mainstream discourse. The far right is not resulting from the front but being left behind.

” The far right is not able to build a party, an institution, that can get even 2% of public support, said Slawomir Sierakowski, of Krytyka Polityczna, a left-leaning thinktank.” The marching is a sign of frustration, an alibi for their weakness, their opportunity to get some attention once a year. Without the media, they would be nothing .”

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‘White Europe’: 60,000 nationalists march on Poland’s independence day

Xenophobic phrases, far-right emblems and religion mottoes mark event also attended by households and branded a beautiful sight by the interior minister

Tens of thousands of nationalists have marched through Warsaw to mark Poland’s independence day, throwing red smoking bombs and carrying flags with such mottoes as” white Europe of brotherly nations “.

The march organised by far-right groups was one of many events marking Poland’s rebirth as a nation in 1918, overshadowing official state observances and other patriotic events.

Police calculated 60,000 people took part. Many were young men, some with their faces encompassed or with beer bottles in hand, but families and older Poles also participated.

Those marching chanted” God, accolade, country” and” Glory to our heroes”, while a few people also hollered xenophobic phrases like” pure Poland, white Poland” and” refugees get out “.

Some participants marched under the slogan” We Want God”, terms from an old Polish religious song that the US president, Donald Trump, quoted during a visit to Warsaw earlier this year. Speakers spoke of standing against liberals and defending Christian values.

Many carried the national white-and-red flag as others set off flares and firecrackers, filling the air with red smoke. Some also carried flags depicting a falanga, a far-right symbol dating to the 1930 s.

Far-right
Far-right marchers brandish banners illustrating a red falanga, a far-right emblem dating to the 1930 s. Photograph: Janek Skarzynski/ AFP/ Getty Images

The march has become one of the largest such demo in Europe and drew far-right leaders from elsewhere in Europe, including Tommy Robinson from Britain and Roberto Fiore from Italy. It also attracted a considerable number of supporters of the governing conservative Law and Justice( PiS) party.

State broadcaster TVP, which reflects the conservative government’s line, called it a” great march of patriots”, and in its broadcasts described the event as one that depicted mostly regular Poles expressing their love of Poland , not extremists.

” It was a beautiful sight ,” the interior minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, said.” We are proud that so many Poles have decided to take part in a festivity connected to the Independence Day vacation .”

A smaller counter-protest by an anti-fascist movement also took place. Organisers kept the two groups apart to prevent violence. However, there was one incident in which the nationalists pushed and kicked several women who chanted anti-fascism slogans and had a flag saying ” Stop Fascism “.

'We
Polish patriots carry a flag translating to’ we want God’ during a procession in Warsaw. Photograph: Jacek Turczyk/ EPA

” I’m shocked that they’re allowed to demonstrate on the working day. It’s 50 to 100, 000 mostly football hooligans hijacking patriotism ,” said 50 -year-old Briton Andy Eddles, a language educator who has been living in Poland for 27 years.” For me it’s important to support the anti-fascist coalition and to subsistence fellow democrat, who are under pressure in Poland today .”

But main march participant Kamil Staszalek warned against attaining generalisations and said he was marching to” honour the memory of the individuals who fought for Poland’s freedom “.

” I’d say some people here do have extreme positions, maybe even 30 per cent of those marching, but 70 per cent are simply walking peacefully, without screaming any fascist slogans ,” he said.

Earlier in the day, the president, Andrzej Duda, is president of nation ceremonies also attended by the European Union president, Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister.

Tusk’s appearance comes at a time when Warsaw has been increasingly at odds with Brussels because of the PiS government’s controversial court reforms, large-scale logging in a primeval forest and refusal to welcome migrants. Relations between PiS and Tusk have been so tense that Poland was the only country to vote against his re-election as EU president in March.

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Countries with coral reefs must do more on climate change Unesco

Custodians of world heritage-listed sites should aim to keep global temperature had risen to simply 1.5 C, UN agency says

Countries with responsibility over world heritage-listed coral reef should adopt ambitious climate change targets, aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions to levels that would maintain global temperature increases to merely 1.5 C, the UN agency responsible for overseeing world heritage sites has said.

At a session of Unescos world heritage committee in Krakow, Poland, a decision was adopted that elucidated and strengthened the responsibility of countries that have custodianship over world-heritage listed coral reefs.

Until now, most countries have interpreted their responsibility over such reefs as implying they need to protect them from local menaces such as water pollution and overfishing.

But between 2014 and 2017, reefs in every major reef region bleached, with much of the coral dying, in the worst global bleaching event in recorded history. Over those three years, 21 of the 29 listed sites suffered severe or repeated hot stress.

Last month Unesco published the first global evaluation of climate changes impacts on world heritage-listed reefs and it concluded that local attempts were no longer sufficient concluding the only hope was to keep global temperature increases below 1.5 C.

The new decision builds on that appraisal, clarifying the responsibility of countries with custodianship over world-heritage listed coral reefs.

The decision adopted by the world heritage committee said it reiterates the importance of state parties undertaking the most ambitious implementation of the Paris agreement, which it noted meant pursuing efforts to limit global average temperature increase to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels.

It went on that it strongly invites all state parties to undertake actions to address climate change under the Paris agreement that are fully consistent with their obligations within the world heritage convention to protect the[ outstanding universal values] of all world heritage properties.

The decision appeared to implement the earlier receiving that local endeavors were insufficient to protect reefs, and indicated the committee considered that countries were obliged under the world heritage convention to undertake strong action on climate change.

The decision set most countries emissions targets in stark contrast with what was needed to protect their reefs. Combined, all countries commitments induced so far are projected to allow warming or as much as 2.7 C by 2100.

But some countries with coral reefs are not contributing their fair share to even that level of aspiration.

Australia, which has responsibility over the worlds largest coral reef system the Great Barrier Reef has climate change targets consistent with between 3C and 4C of warming by 2100, according to Climate Action Tracker.

Moreover, Australia doesnt have any policies in place that will help it attain those targets, with official government projections demonstrating emissions are not expected to be cut at all, and instead will rise for at the least decades to come.

The first indication that Unesco would consider action on climate change an obligation to take measures of custodians of world-heritage listed coral reefs came in June when it assessed Australias progress in protecting the Great Barrier Reef, following back-to-back mass bleaching in 2016 and 2017 that killed as much as half its coral.

Despite acknowledging Australias progress in addressing water quality on the reef, and choosing not to set the reef on its in-danger listing, Unesco noted that climate change was the most serious threat to it, and said there was the need to consider how bleaching was affecting the efficiency of the countrys plan to protect it.

Last week the Australian government bragged that the Great Barrier Reef was not put on the in-danger list at this meeting, said Imogen Zethoven from the Australian Marine Conservation Society, who was at the world heritage committee session in Poland.

However, this week the Australian government should be worried. It knows very well that it is still on probation with the world heritage committee. This decision means Australia needs to rapidly reduce carbon pollution and reject new coalmines otherwise our reef is at great risk of being placed on the world heritage in-danger listing in 2020.

The Australian government must now, more than ever, rule in any new coalmines and urgently develop a climate policy that will protect our global icon. It must do its fair share of the global effort to reduce pollution.

If it doesnt, the world heritage committee should hold Australia be held accountable for failing to tackle the single greatest threat to our Great Barrier Reef and for putting all other world heritage coral reefs at risk.

An Earthjustice attorney, Noni Austin, who also attended the world heritage committee session, said: The world heritage committees decision has confirmed what scientists have been saying for years: urgent and rapid action to reduce global warming and implement the Paris agreement is essential for the survival of coral reefs into the future.

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