The Greens say today’s report that more than 98% of the Great Barrier Reef’s coral reefs have suffered bleaching is a damning indictment of the Morrison Government’s climate inaction and exposes the sickening cynicism of its campaign to keep the Reef off UNESCO’s “in danger” list earlier this year.
Greens deputy leader and Queensland Senator Larissa Waters said:
“Climate change and pollution have already killed off half of the Great Barrier Reef’s coral cover, endangering this precious natural asset and the 60,000 jobs that rely on it.
“Today’s report from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies now reveals that only 2% of the Reef has escaped bleaching - and this is in the same week that the PM went to an international climate summit to flog fossil fuels on behalf of his donors.
“Morrison’s climate policies, enabled by Labor’s bipartisan support for public subsidising of new coal and gas, are cooking the Reef and our future.
“The commitments given at Glasgow give the world a fifty-fifty shot at limiting global heating to two degrees, but that would be catastrophic for the Reef. At two degrees we would lose 99% of coral reefs worldwide; even at 1.5 degrees we would lose 90%.
“If the PM really wants to keep the Reef off the ‘in danger’ list when the World Heritage Committee convenes in Russia next year, he should shut his door to fossil fuel lobbyists and adopt ambitious and science-based 2030 targets to constrain the climate crisis.”
Greens spokesperson for Healthy Oceans, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said:
“Report after report continues to paint the most tragic and bleak picture for the Great Barrier Reef unless radical climate action is taken immediately.
“The high-profile Great Barrier Reef is a barometer for the declining health of marine ecosystems everywhere.
‘While the Great Barrier Reef deserves the world's attention and significant funding for its restoration, Australia’s Great Southern Reef system also suffers yet goes largely unnoticed.
“This massive temperate-water reef system, similar in size and significance to its northern sister, connects much of Southern Australia including Tasmania and has also suffered devastating impacts from warming oceans.
“Tasmania’s giant kelp forests were listed as endangered under EPBC laws a decade ago, yet have now largely vanished. The government still hasn’t produced a recovery plan for this critical habitat, indeed it receives virtually no federal research or adaptation funding.
“Signs of the climate emergency are everywhere along Australia’s coastlines, and we now have our eyes wide open to this belligerent government who refuse to take necessary climate action.”