The Australian Marine Conservation Society has welcomed a $2bn plan to save the Great Barrier Reef announced by the Greens.
The plan includes boosting clean energy and banning new coal and gas to tackle the climate crisis which drives the marine heatwaves that damage so much of our Reef. The Greens’ plan also boosts funding to tackle water pollution over the next 10 years.
The funding commitment compares with the $1bn the Morrison government promised the Reef in its recent funding announcement and the $163m pledged so far from Federal Labor to tackle Reef issues.
AMCS GBR campaign manager Dr Lissa Schindler said: “With this announcement, the Greens recognise that the biggest threat to our Reef and the tens of thousands of jobs that rely on it comes from global heating driven by the emissions from coal and gas developments.
“We welcome their plan to draw a line in the sand on any new developments which will help Australia to become a true world leader in emissions reduction. As custodians of the Reef, we have a duty to be leading the global move towards limiting warming to 1.5C – a key threshold for coral reefs around the world. To achieve this, we need a plan to drastically cut emissions this decade, and reach net zero by 2035.
“The three recent mass coral bleaching events on our Reef in part led to the World Heritage status of our Reef being called into question. We are just weeks away from UNESCO’s Reef Monitoring Mission arriving in Australia, and so far the Greens’ funding commitment is by far the best from our political parties. The other two parties need to play catch up to show Mission delegates they are as serious as the Greens are about giving our Reef a future.”
Much of the funding in the announcement will go towards improving reef water quality by helping improve farming practices, repair catchments and set legal caps on water pollution by catchment.
“Tackling water pollution flowing from farming and grazing properties into the Reef is an issue that only the Queensland and Australian governments can tackle. It is essential to build the resilience of inshore areas to heating waters,” said Dr Schindler.
“We would want to see that funding front loaded to help Australia and Queensland meet and beat its water quality targets set for 2025. In some catchments, we are quite far from meeting targets set for nitrogen and sediment reductions in farm runoff.”