Revised Reef 2050 Plan: All talk, no real climate action  

20.07.18 By

REVISIONS to the national Reef 2050 Plan places a stronger focus on climate change as the key pressure on the Great Barrier Reef, but fails to recognise the Federal Government’s lack of ambition to act on climate change, according to the Climate Council.

Climate Council Acting CEO Dr Martin Rice said the Federal and Queensland Government’s revised plan failed to acknowledge Australia’s weak greenhouse gas pollution reduction targets, instead relying heavily on $500 million dollars to fund improvements to water quality and eradicating the crown-of-thorn starfish to protect the Reef.

“Despite these revisions, Australia simply is still falling short when it comes to doing its bit to protect this global natural icon under our care,” he said.

“These measures are only useful if we are also tackling climate change, the root cause of the mass coral bleaching. But Australia’s greenhouse gas pollution levels are continuing to rise without credible federal policy solutions in place.”

“We cannot afford to waste time on band-aid solutions that will do little to protect the Reef and those who rely upon and thrive from it, including the Queensland tourism industry.

Dr Rice said it was a step forward for the revised plan to place stronger emphasis on climate change as the greatest and most urgent threat to the Great Barrier Reef.

“The 2016 mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef was at least 175 times more likely to occur, due to intensifying climate change,” he said.

“Now we know that the back to back unprecedented bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 resulted in mass coral mortality, totalling around one third as a result.”

Dr Rice pointed to the Federal Government’s proposed National Energy Guarantee (NEG) as placing a ceiling on Australia’s potential to slash greenhouse gas pollution levels, with current woefully inadequate emission reduction targets unable to be revised until 2030.

The Reef 2050 Plan places huge emphasis on Australia meeting its international obligations under the Paris Agreement, yet if all countries adopted targets with such low and weak ambition as Australia, coral reefs worldwide will collapse,” he said.

“The future survival of coral reefs around the world, including the Reef, depends on how deeply and swiftly greenhouse gas pollution levels are slashed over the coming years and decades. We can do this through the transition to clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy and storage technology.”

“We all need to ask ourselves this: Do we really want to be known as the generation of Australians who had a chance to save the Reef, but didn’t?”

For more information please contact Senior Communications Advisor Alexia Boland 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.

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