Climate Change: A Deadly Threat To Coral Reefs

Intensifying climate change remains the biggest threat to coral reefs around the world, with rising sea surface temperatures driving widespread bleaching events, according to the Climate Council’s latest report.

The report ‘Climate Change: A Deadly Threat to Coral Reefs’, shows worsening bleaching events are also placing tourism and global economies at risk, with the loss of coral reefs potentially costing an astounding $1 trillion.

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT

DOWNLOAD THE INFOGRAPHIC

DOWNLOAD THE INFOGRAPHIC

KEY FINDINGS

1. The Great Barrier Reef is experiencing severe bleaching in 2017, following the worst bleaching event on record in 2016.

  • Last year the Great Barrier Reef experienced its worst bleaching event ever. The pristine reefs in the north (Port Douglas to Papua New Guinea) were the most badly affected, with mortality of two-thirds of coral in this region.
  • While the El Niño has waned, bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef has continued, fueled by climate change.
  • Severe bleaching has already been observed in offshore reefs from north of Ingham to near Cairns. In 2017 more bleaching is being observed in the central section of the GBR, which was spared last year.
  • Reefs bleached in both 2016 and 2017 have had no opportunity to recover and so high mortality rates can be expected.

2. Climate change is threatening our reefs and putting their future health at extreme risk.

  • Rising sea surface temperatures, driven by climate change, are increasing the frequency and severity of mass coral bleaching events and reducing the opportunities for corals to recover.
  • The longest global coral bleaching event on record, ongoing since 2014, has led to widespread bleaching and mortality of reefs as pools of unusually warm water move around the globe.
  • It was virtually impossible for the extreme ocean temperatures that led to coral bleaching along the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 to have occurred without climate change.

3. Coral reefs are a huge economic asset, providing jobs and incomes to local communities.

  • Loss of coral reefs potentially puts an astounding $1 trillion at risk globally.
  • The World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef is a national economic asset worth $7 billion annually, supporting the livelihoods of 69,000 Australians employed in sectors such as tourism.
  • If severe bleaching continues, regions adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef risk losing more than 1 million visitors annually - equivalent to at least $1 billion in tourism spending and 10,000 jobs.
  • Over the next two to three decades, bleaching events are likely to become even more frequent and severe in Australia, with catastrophic impacts on reef health and the economy.

4. We must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions now to protect our reefs.

  • While carbon emissions flat-lined last year in China and declined in the United States and elsewhere, Australia’s net emissions continue to rise, increasing by 0.8% in 2016.
  • Over the next two to three decades, bleaching events are likely to become even more frequent and severe in Australia, with catastrophic impacts on reef health and the economy.
  • In the long term, protecting our coral reefs requires the rapid phasing out of fossil fuels globally, and the uptake of cheap, clean and efficient renewable energy and energy storage technologies. Australia must play its part.
  • The commissioning of new coal mines such as that planned for the Galilee Basin, and the pursuit of polluting and expensive “clean coal” projects and new gas plants, is completely at odds with protecting the Great Barrier Reef and other reefs globally

WATCH THE VIDEO

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT

Recommended

Comments