Media Release Climate Change

PM should respond to Reef Authority’s Climate Change Statement calling for Strong and Fast Action to Curb Global Warming

July 18, 2019

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) today called on the Prime Minister to respond to a federal government authority’s call for strong and fast action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Australia’s leading manager of our Reef, today released a major statement [2], quoting the Chair of the Authority saying: “Immediate national and international action is required to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions”.

AMCS spokeswoman Imogen Zethoven said: “The Prime Minister, a former Managing Director of Tourism Australia, knows how critical the Reef is to the tourism industry and to Australia’s international reputation.

“The Great Barrier Reef is Australia’s most famous natural asset. It is revered around the world, supports 2 million tourists a year, generates $6 billion dollars annually and sustains 64,000 jobs.

“As the caretaker for Reef and a daily witness to its decline, GBRMPA is crying out for immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“The Great Barrier Reef’s World Heritage status is clearly at risk from global warming that is heating the world’s oceans. The global authority on World Heritage sites, UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, has said: “Local management is no longer sufficient to ensure the future of coral reefs”.

The federal government is funding local management through the GBR Foundation. This will be wasted unless the Morrison government takes radical action to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to save our greatest natural icon and the jobs it supports.

The world’s most respected conservationist, Sir David Attenborough has recently told the UK Parliament that our response to the climate crisis “cannot be radical enough”. [1]

GBRMPA’s statement makes it clear that limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius or below is critical to maintaining the Great Barrier Reef.

The statement says: “delays in taking strong action to reduce global carbon emissions decrease the likelihood of limiting the temperature increase to below 1.5°C”.

“The future of the Reef hangs in the balance right now. Will Scott Morrison be the Prime Minister who delays taking strong and fast action to reduce emissions or will he be the Prime Minister who saves our Reef? The answer is in his hands during this term of government,” said Ms Zethoven.

[1] GBRMPA Position Statement on Climate Change here



·       In 2016 and 2017, the Great Barrier Reef suffered two severe coral bleaching events resulting in 50% of its corals dying.

·       Hard coral cover in the Northern and Central GBR continues to be close to, or at, the lowest levels recorded in the 30+ years of the Long-Term Monitoring Program run by the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

·       Reefs in the Northern and Central GBR have sustained impacts from multiple severe disturbances including mass coral bleaching, cyclones and crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks.

·       Hard coral cover in the Southern GBR (comprised of the Capricorn-Bunker group and the Swains reefs) has declined overall. Coral cover continued to recover in the Capricorn-Bunker reefs after Cyclone Hamish destroyed large areas in 2009, however, the Swain reefs suffered large coral losses due to intense crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks.

AMCS media contact Ingrid Neilson (in Sydney, Australia GMT +10) +61 (0)421 972 731