Intensifying climate change driven by the burning of fossil fuels remains the biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef’s future, following UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee (WHC) latest meeting overnight.
Climate Councillor and climate scientist Professor Will Steffen said the WHC’s decision to back away from labelling the world wonder as ‘in danger’ doesn’t mean the Reef is out of the woods.
“This UNESCO decision doesn’t change the situation we are facing, the science says without a doubt, that the Great Barrier Reef is in danger,” he said.
“The Federal Government must focus on protecting the Reef, instead of labels and listings. The Reef 2050 Plan doesn’t tackle the real driver of damage to the Reef - climate change.”
“The biggest threat to the Reef by far is increasing ocean temperatures, driven by the burning of fossil fuels. Unless Australia joins the rest of the world in adopting very strong climate and energy policies, the Reef will have very little chance of surviving.”
Professor Steffen said two years of back to back mass coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef should serve as a clear warning signal to UNESCO and the Australian Government.
“What more has to happen before the Reef is considered ‘in danger’?”
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee decision comes as plans for Australia’s largest multi-billion dollar coal mine, Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, continues to be endorsed by the Federal and Queensland Governments.
“This outcome does not change the fact that Australia needs urgent leadership on climate change, as our government remains in limbo over moving ahead with climate and energy policy, supported by the transition to clean, affordable and secure renewable energy and storage technologies.”
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