The Australian Marine Conservation Society has highlighted a submission from the government’s own Reef watchdog warning the Reef may not be a “coral dominated system” due to the impacts of global-warming and coral bleaching.
In April 2015, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority released a submission to the Australian government’s post 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, stating that unless global warming is kept to less than 1.2 degrees the Reef would not be a “coral-dominated system”.
The call has been backed the International Society for Reef Studies who in October 2015 called global warming to be limited to less than 1.5 degrees.
Imogen Zethoven, the Great Barrier Reef campaign director for the Australian Marine Conservation Society said the Federal government needs to explain how its current policies can be reconciled with the threat of a Reef losing more and more of its coral.
“Right now, we are seeing a coral bleaching event along the length of the Great Barrier Reef which could get worse in the next few weeks.
“Coral bleaching is a man-made, avoidable crisis. It is a major wake up call that we need to urgently transform our energy sector. The leading contributor to global warming in Australia is the mining and burning of coal.
“If we don’t dramatically reduce the mining and burning of coal and rapidly switch to 100% renewables, we risk losing even more of the beautiful hard corals that tourists come to see from around the world.
“GBRMPA warned us of an increased risk of mass coral bleaching and loss of corals; acidification of the Reef’s waters restricting coral growth and survival; and more intense weather events such as cyclones that cause catastrophic damage to reefs.
“Their advice is clear. There is a “critical need”to reduce our emissions to a level that supports the recovery and growth of hard corals on the Great Barrier Reef.
“The Reef has lost 50% of its coral cover in the last 30 years, and half of that is due to global warming, driven largely by mining and burning coal.
“Having beautiful hard corals dominate the Great Barrier Reef should be non-negotiable,” said Ms Zethoven.
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