Climate change could cause coral reef tourism revenue losses of more than 90% in Australia by 2100, a report published today has predicted as world leaders gather at the COP25 climate conference in Madrid.
The research, commissioned by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy – a group of 14 heads of state (which includes Australia), found that even if action is taken to cut carbon emissions, the industry is still expected to suffer economic losses of up to 66%.
The Great Barrier Reef tourism industry supports two million tourists a year, sustains 64,000 jobs and generates $6 billion dollars annually. On the west coast of Australia, our country’s other World Heritage listed reef – Ningaloo – is visited by more than 200,000 people per year.
Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) Director of Strategy Imogen Zethoven said the concerning research was yet more incentive for the Australian Government to show global leadership on climate change and urgently transition to renewables to help save our World Heritage Reefs.
“Earlier this week, the Australian Government stated in its Great Barrier Reef report to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee that climate change is the Reef’s biggest threat. But it did not commit to actions through to 2030 that will limit national and global temperature to a level that would secure its future,” Ms Zethoven said.
“The breathtaking beauty of our Great Barrier Reef is a magnet for tourists from around the world and is part of our national identity as Australians. But the recent back-to-back coral bleaching events caused by a warming ocean driven by climate change shows that our Reef is in grave danger. We should be doing all we can to help sustain its beauty and biodiversity and ensure the Reef tourism industry has a future.
“It’s not too late to save our Reef, but time is critical as this latest report illustrates. Australia needs to commit to rapid and drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 C which will safeguard the future of our Reef and avert an economic crisis for the tourism industry.”
The High Level Panel analysis utilised new models to assess impacts at country and regional levels, identifying that coral reef tourism industries in Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico and Thailand will also be hit hard.
The paper calls for more conservation and restoration measures for coral reefs to aid resilience, as well as actions that will reduce the climate impact of tourism.
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