The bipartisan support for net zero climate pollution by 2050 is a long-awaited step forward for Australian climate politics but our Great Barrier Reef needs much greater ambition from all sides of politics across the next decade if it is to survive into the future, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) says.
On the 40th anniversary of our Reef’s inscription as a World Heritage Site, the Morrison government has announced a net zero climate target for 2050, but failed to set the stronger 2030 target so desperately needed to save our global icon.
Our government must develop clear plans which accelerate pollution cuts by 2030 to ensure they are compatible with limiting warming to 1.5C – a critical threshold for our Reef, AMCS says.
We are concerned the details of the deal done to secure a commitment to net zero with the National Party have not been made public. Any deal to water down already weak environment laws, facilitate land clearing or support the extension of the fossil fuel industry would have dire implications for our incredible natural spaces and biodiversity.
AMCS CEO Darren Kindleysides said there is no time to lose for the Reef – stronger, faster climate action must happen now.
“Our Reef is crying out for much stronger and immediate action,” he said.
“If the Morrison government is serious about our Reef’s future, they must now take the Reef-saving step of committing to slash emissions this decade. As we mark the 40th anniversary of our Reef as a World Heritage property, we urgently need to up our game.
“The best science indicates we need a target reducing pollution by 75% by 2030 and policies to meet net zero by 2035 to ensure the special places in Australia like the Reef can benefit future generations.
“Australian voters, businesses, scientists and global partners like the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union are already on board with more ambitious targets by 2030. When will the Morrison government join them?”
Mr Kindleysides added the Reef had been beset by climate change-driven disasters in recent years, including three mass coral bleachings in five years indicating that time for action on climate is running out.
“The lion’s share of pollution from coal, gas and oil needs to be cut this decade if we are to avoid more disasters for our Reef,” he said.
“Every fraction of a degree of warming will be crucial for our Reef in the next 10 years. It will shape its future. As the world prepares for the COP26 climate conference, the Morrison government must take accelerated action at all possible levels to address the threat of climate change to the Reef and fulfill its commitment to the World Heritage Committee as custodians of the Reef.
“For the sake of the Reef, the people across Australia and the world who love it, the tourism and fishing industries that rely on it being healthy, and for the communities in Queensland that will stand to benefit hugely from the transition to renewable energy, it is imperative all sides of politics accelerate plans to cut emissions this crucial decade.”