A new report reveals that under the Federal Government’s watch the long-term outlook for the Great Barrier Reef has gone from “poor” to “very poor” for the very first time.
“This report makes it abundantly clear that climate change is the major factor driving the deterioration of one of our most precious natural icons,” said the Climate Council’s CEO Amanda McKenzie.
The Government’s caretaker of the reef – the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority – releases a report every five years that provides an assessment of the reef’s health, the pressures it’s under and its likely future.
The report states: “Climate change is escalating and is the most significant threat to the Region’s long-term outlook…The challenge to restore Reef resilience is big, but not insurmountable. However, it requires mitigation of climate change.”
“Gradual sea temperature increase and extremes, such as marine heatwaves, are the most immediate threats to the Region as a whole and pose the highest risk,” it notes.
Accelerating climate change is driving an increase in the number of marine heatwave days each year, placing global reefs at serious risks.
The unprecedented bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017 resulted in mass coral mortality, with the 2016 bleaching event at least 175 times more likely to occur due to intensifying climate change.
“Climate change threatens not only the Great Barrier Reef, but the North Queensland tourism industry and the 64,000 workers and communities who depend on it. We must work urgently to protect the tourism industry,” said the Climate Council’s Head of Research, Dr Martin Rice.
“The Federal Government must address the root cause of the problem and, with other countries around the world, rapidly and deeply reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Dr Rice.
“We must stop burning and exporting coal, oil and gas,” he said.“Australia is the sunniest and one of the windiest countries in the world. We have the opportunity to be a global renewables powerhouse, creating new business opportunities and work for thousands of Australians,” he said.
For interviews please contact Senior Communications Advisor, Lisa Upton on 0438 972 260.
The Climate Council is Australia’s leading climate change communications organisation. We provide authoritative, expert and evidence-based advice on climate change to journalists, policymakers, and the wider Australian community.
For further information, go to: climatecouncil.org.au
Or follow us on social media: facebook.com/climatecouncil and twitter.com/climatecouncil