Media Release Fight For Our Reef

First Reef mass coral bleaching event under Albanese Govt – world is watching

March 8, 2024
  • Australia must do more to combat climate after devastating fifth mass bleaching event on Great Barrier Reef in eight years 

  • Australian Govt must lift emissions reduction target & stop approving new fossil fuel projects to limit global warming to 1.5oC – a critical threshold for coral reefs

  • Queensland LNP opposition must back state government target if it wants to protect Reef

The Albanese Government must dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions and stop approving new fossil fuel projects to help protect the Great Barrier Reef, the Australian Marine Conservation Society said after the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority officially declared that the current coral bleaching is a mass bleaching event, the fifth in eight years.

AMCS Great Barrier Reef Campaign Manager Dr Lissa Schindler said: “It’s devastating that the Great Barrier Reef is now experiencing an unprecedented fifth mass coral bleaching event in just eight years. This is a huge wake-up call for Australia and the global community that we need to do much more to address climate change, which is driving the marine heatwaves that lead to coral bleaching.

“The former Coalition federal government failed to heed the alarm sounded by four mass coral bleaching events. If we ignore it this time and continue on our current pathway, we risk losing the Great Barrier Reef and the $6 billion sustainable tourism industry and 64,000 jobs it supports. Our children and grandchildren may never experience the Reef that we know and love.

“The world is watching how the Albanese government will respond to the first mass bleaching of the Reef on its watch. If it’s serious about its commitment to UNESCO to protect the Reef, then it must lift its emissions reduction target in line with keeping global warming to 1.5oC – a critical threshold for coral reefs. That means the Albanese government must commit to net-zero emissions by 2035 and stop approving new fossil fuel projects.

“Australia’s current target of a 43% cut in carbon pollution by 2030 is consistent with a 2°C warming pathway, which equates to the loss of 99% of the world’s coral reefs.

“The Queensland Government has shown leadership with its improved target to cut climate pollution, and it’s time for the state’s Liberal National Party to show Queenslanders that protecting the Reef has bipartisan support.

“Right now the states are leading the way on climate. If a state with a significant resource sector such as Queensland can set an emissions reduction target of 75% by 2035, then the Australian Government can and must go higher.

“Direct climate mitigation must be coupled with building the health of the Great Barrier Reef by reducing other threats, including stopping broadscale tree clearing in Reef catchments, restoring wetlands and improving fisheries.

“The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the custodian of the Reef, must play a greater role in reducing these threats to the Reef and tell the Australian Government that urgent emissions reductions are needed at the national level.”