THE GREAT BARRIER REEF remains at risk from further coral bleaching, despite the Federal Government’s $60 million plan.
Climate Council CEO, Amanda McKenzie said the Federal Government’s plan had ‘missed the boat’ when it comes to tackling the greatest long-term threat to Australia’s billion dollar natural asset – climate change.
“The bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef would be virtually impossible if it weren’t for intensifying climate change,” she said.
“If the most significant problem is not addressed, this plan is just a bandaid solution.”
Climate change is the most significant long-term threat to coral reefs.
After repeated mass coral bleaching events in 2016 and 2017, early signs show that the reef may be vulnerable to coral bleaching again in 2018, giving corals no time to recover.
“The Federal Government plan pledges to focus on research, inspecting the reef, culling the crown-of-thorns starfish, along with water quality measures including agricultural runoff improvements. In addition, the funding plans to allocate inspectors to monitor the reef for signs of bleaching.
“These measures are only useful if we are also tackling climate change, the root cause of the mass coral bleaching. But Australia’s pollution levels are continuing to rise without credible federal policy solutions in place.
“This is not just an environmental issue. Without adequate protection from further coral bleaching, Australia’s multi-billion dollar tourism sector, along with more than 60,000 jobs could be at risk,” she said.
After back to back bleaching events, the Great Barrier Reef has had no time to recover from the effects of climate change. Image: XL Catlin Seaview Survey
Climate Council Head of Research Dr Martin Rice called for urgent and credible Federal Government policy to slash Australia’s growing pollution levels that are driving intensifying climate change and the bleaching of the reef.
“Failing to tackle climate change could result in bleaching events becoming more frequent and more severe in Australia over the next two to three decades,” he said.
“The solutions are available now. The Federal Government must continue Australia’s transition to clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy and storage technology, to slash rising pollution and protect the Great Barrier Reef for future generations to enjoy for many more years to come.”