Media Release Climate Change

IPCC report shows Australia must do more to protect Reef, oceans and climate

March 21, 2023
  • Australia must implement climate policies to limit global warming to 1.5°C – a critical threshold for coral
  • Australia must stop approving oil and gas developments especially in our seas – such as PEP11 – where the impacts of spills will be devastating

Australian governments must do more to protect the Great Barrier Reef, our oceans and climate, the Australian Marine Conservation Society said today after the release of the hugely significant Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The latest IPCC report is a recap of the main findings of previous reports, led by the world’s scientific experts. This report draws together predictions and observations of global heating, summarises the impacts of the climate crisis and ways of reducing fossil fuel emissions.  IPCC chair Hoesung Lee said: “This Synthesis Report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still secure a liveable sustainable future for all.”

AMCS Senior Great Barrier Reef Campaigner Cherry Muddle said: “The IPCC assessment warns governments must enact stronger, deeper and faster climate action now to secure a liveable blue planet. Current climate plans have failed to stop ocean heating and mass bleaching events.

“The cost of climate inaction is being felt from the Great Barrier Reef to the Great Southern Reef. The Great Barrier Reef has experienced four mass bleaching events since 2016, driven by marine heat waves caused by climate change. The waters off south-eastern Australia are warming 3-4 times the global average and changing ecosystems faster than science can keep up with, while our Great Southern Reef’s kelp forests are struggling.

“Just last year the World Heritage Committee’s scientific advisers, UNESCO and the IUCN, called for the Australian Government to take more action on climate change and tackle local threats to avoid the Great Barrier Reef being placed on the ‘In Danger’ when the WHC meets later this year.

“Our federal and state governments must urgently introduce climate policies that rapidly cut emissions and limit global warming to 1.5°C – a critical threshold for the survival of coral reefs and beyond which damage to the climate will rapidly become irreversible. The federal government must agree to a strengthened safeguard mechanism that rapidly and genuinely cuts emissions from our biggest climate polluters.

“Australia has an outsized impact on climate, responsible for 5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The rejection of the Clive Palmer-owned Central Queensland Coal mine was a step in the right direction, but we must do our fair share by drawing a line under the approval of new fossil fuel schemes, especially in our seas where accidents can have such devastating impacts.

“The Australian Government could act immediately by not extending the licence for Petroleum Exploration Permit 11 (PEP 11), which would turn the waters off some of our most iconic beaches from Sydney to Newcastle into an extensive offshore gas field.

“The IPCC assessment is the final official scientific warning for countries such as Australia to take immediate action. We must act fast to secure a safe climate and future for our Reef. This is the critical decade for action to curb the worst impacts of climate change.”