Leading Australian environmental group, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), says the federal government must act on the climate emergency to preserve the iconic Great Barrier Reef.
A recently-released report from the government’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority downgraded its health from “poor” to “very poor.”
It’s the first time the Reef has received such a low rating.
The Great Barrier Reef is at risk
A warming sea temperature due to the climate crisis is the main cause of the Reef’s deterioration, said the report. It also cites coastal development, illegal fishing, and land-based runoff as additional causes for concern.
The report said immediate action to reverse the climate emergency was critical to the health of the Reef.
“Gradual sea temperature increase and extremes, such as marine heatwaves, are the most immediate threats to the Reef as a whole and pose the highest risk,” said Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Chief Scientist David Wachenfeld.
“Global action on climate change is critical.”
In an August 30th statement, the ACF said the reef now faces “unprecedented stresses” from the climate emergency. It describes the report as a “sobering assessment.”
“Immediate national and international action is needed to cut climate pollution to levels that will maintain the ecological function of coral reef ecosystems,” said ACF CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.
The ACF urges Australia to act
O’Shanassy said Australia needed to do more to protect and preserve natural icons such as the Great Barrier Reef. She said the government should be supporting renewable energy instead of fossil fuel projects such as the Adani coal mine.
“If we are serious about wanting future generations to be able to appreciate coral reefs, we need to halt the climate pollution that is fuelling global warming and driving the mass coral bleaching that has plagued the Great Barrier Reef and other reefs in recent years,” she said.
“As coal is global warming’s number one fuel, Australia needs to shift to clean, renewable energy in the next decade and not make the problem worse by facilitating new coal mines, like Adani’s.
O’Shannassy added that, while there was still time to save the Reef, the “window of opportunity” may very soon close. Presenters will deliver the report at the United Nations at the end of the year. At that point, the UN will consider whether the Great Barrier Reef will keep its World Heritage status.