Media Release Climate Change

Reef declared critical due to global heating but Federal Government cares little for climate action

December 3, 2020

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) says it is appalled there is still no decisive action on climate change by the Federal Government as a report released by an international conservation body recognises the dire outlook for our Great Barrier Reef because of global heating.

In its third World Heritage Outlook Report, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has downgraded our Reef’s outlook to a critical red rating because its World Heritage values are severely threatened and deteriorating due to climate change.

Our Reef suffered its third mass bleaching event in just five years earlier in 2020 driven by climate change, and scientists have predicted elevated temperatures in north eastern waters across the next two months, putting our Reef at risk of another bleaching event in 2021.

AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign manager Dr Lissa Schindler said the Federal Government’s refusal to act decisively on climate change is unforgivable in the light of these repeated warnings from scientists and institutions like the IUCN.

“The Federal Government understands how dangerous global heating is for our Reef. How many more warnings do our political leaders need before they take serious action on climate to protect our international icon, all its incredible wildlife and its beleaguered tourism industry?” Said Dr Schindler.

“We call on the Federal Government to take its role as custodians of our Reef seriously by committing to a pathway compatible with 1.5 degrees Celsius of heating in a wide ranging national climate change policy. We also call on them to lead the charge globally on tackling climate change, instead of the current dithering.”

Next year, the World Heritage Committee will meet in China to decide whether our Reef should be classed as ‘in danger’. The IUCN is an advisory body to the Committee and their latest report will have a bearing on the assessment. An ‘in danger’ rating would be a huge blow for a Reef tourism industry only just beginning to recover from the ravages of Covid-19 restrictions.

“There are thousands of livelihoods depending on a healthy Reef but our Federal Government is not doing enough to ensure the future of this important industry for Queensland,” added Dr Schindler.

“It would not be surprising for Australians to think the Federal Government doesn’t care enough about the Great Barrier Reef and its outstanding value to take serious climate action to protect its future.

“The emission targets our Reef, its wildlife and these Australians need can be achieved through an urgent and just transition to renewable energy.”