Media Release Fight For Our Reef

El Niño huge concern for Great Barrier Reef

July 5, 2023

An El Niño climate event is deeply concerning for the health of the Great Barrier Reef, increasing the chances of marine heatwaves and coral bleaching, the Australian Marine Conservation Society said today after the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization officially declared an El Niño this year.

AMCS Great Barrier Reef Campaign Manager Dr Lissa Schindler said: “The declaration of an El Niño weather event is deeply concerning for the health of our Great Barrier Reef as it means hotter drier conditions, which increase the chances of marine heatwaves and coral bleaching. Climate change is driving more frequent and intense weather patterns and remains the greatest threat to the Reef.

“Both the Australian and Queensland governments must urgently slash emissions to protect the Reef and the 64,000 livelihoods that depend on a healthy Reef.

“As a starting point, the Queensland Government must double its 2030 emissions reduction target if it wants any chance of staying within reach of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees – a critical threshold for coral reefs.

“The World Heritage Committee’s advisers, UNESCO and the IUCN, recommended the Australian and Queensland governments legislate clear actionable steps to limit warming to 1.5 degrees to protect the Reef’s Outstanding Universal Values and World Heritage status, as part of 22 recommendations made in their Reactive Mission Report.

“Queensland is one of the biggest polluters per capita in the world yet still has one of the lowest emissions reductions targets in the country.”

The Bureau of Meteorology has not officially declared an El Niño this year, but we expect an announcement soon.