Great Barrier Reef agency breaks with Australia government in climate warning

SYDNEY (AFP) – The agency that manages the Great Barrier Reef broke ranks with Australia’s conservative government to call for the “strongest and fastest possible action” against climate change to save the world heritage marine wonder.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, a government body, said in a study released this week that an urgent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, both nationally and globally, was needed to protect the future of the reef.

Rising sea temperatures linked to climate change have killed off large areas of coral in the 2,300-kilometre reef, a United Nations (UN)-listed World Heritage site, that suffered back-to-back coral bleaching in 2016 and 2017.

Australia’s emissions of greenhouse gases have risen for the past four years under the recently re-elected government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, which backs the country’s huge coal industry.

It has refused to enshrine emission reduction targets agreed to under the Paris climate accords in its formal energy policy and experts question whether it can meet its commitment to cut greenhouse gas output by at least 26 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.