A World Heritage Committee draft report on climate change and coral bleaching released this week confirms global action is needed to address a major problem affecting coral reefs world-wide, Environment Minister Steven Miles said.
The draft report is outlined in a UNESCO agenda paper for a meeting in Poland next month, and says that 75 per cent of the 29 world heritage coral reefs were exposed to conditions that cause bleaching over the past three years.
“This really underscores what the Queensland Government has been advocating for some time; that immediate action on a global scale is required to protect the future of all coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Miles said.
“This means that both Australia and Queensland will need to do their fair share.
“The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s greatest assets, providing habitat for some of the world’s most magnificent marine animals.
“But the reef’s greatest threat is rising sea temperatures, which scientific research has clearly shown to be the result of a changing climate and a leading cause of coral bleaching.”
Mr Miles said the draft WHC report showed the dramatic extent of the problem across the world.
“Sadly, it is not just the Great Barrier Reef that is suffering this catastrophic level of coral bleaching – it is being seen right around the world.
“There is no doubt climate change is a real issue affecting us at this very moment, as coral bleaching events are showing.
“The draft WHC report gives us confidence that the global community is now seeing a changing climate as a global issue.
“If people and governments worldwide are to protect their coral reefs and the marine life they support, it will take a global effort to constantly improve the fight against climate change.”
Mr Miles said the draft WHC report showed the Palaszczuk Government’s efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef were vitally important.
“We are focused on reducing all environmental impacts on the Great Barrier Reef, and announced $35 million per year for reef water quality in the recent state budget in addition to the $100 million we’ve already committed.
“We will also continue to work closely with the Australian government on further initiatives to protect the Great Barrier Reef from negative impacts such as coral bleaching.”
Mr Miles said aerial surveys and 398 in-water surveys of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park had recently been done to study the health of the reef and improve situational awareness of the coral bleaching event.
“To give the reef the best chance possible of recovery from the serious effects of climate change, we will maintain our focus on improving water quality and park users’ compliance with the zoning plans and delivering the Reef 2050 Plan actions,” he said.
“We are also working with farmers, graziers, industry and the community to improve the quality of water entering local waterways that flow to the reef.
“And on the global scale, the Palaszczuk Government is fully committed to the Paris Agreement on reducing climate change.”