Great Barrier Reef’s bleak bleached future being ignored by the Federal Coal-alition

 MEDIA RELEASE for immediate release: 23 February, 2017

Peak state environment group, the Queensland Conservation Council, is dismayed that Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has wasted the opportunity to meet with reef and climate scientists, and State and Territory Ministers in Cairns, to discuss action on climate change.

The meeting today is followed tomorrow with a visit to parts of the Great Barrier Reef, which is once again facing imminent risk of coral bleaching due to climate change-induced rising ocean temperatures, as well as acidification, and ongoing water quality issues.

In new research, released today from the University of Melbourne[i], projections of the Great Barrier Reef’s future paint a bleak, bleached scenario in coming decades, thanks to climate change and the failure to contain temperature rises to under 1.5% Celsius. A 2% Celsius temperature rise, which some countries are committed to under the Paris Accord, still spells widespread and potentially terminal damage to the iconic reef.

Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg should be up in Far North Queensland, answering questions about how Canberra will strengthen Australia’s response to run-away climate change”, said head of the Queensland Conservation Council, Dr Tim Seelig.

“Instead, Minister Frydenberg has been spending his time watching his Coalition (“coal alition”) colleagues tossing around lumps of coal in Parliament, and falsely pointing the finger at renewable energy as the cause of energy insecurity.

“Canberra needs to wake up to the reality of the impacts of climate change.  The decline and possible death of the Great Barrier Reef within our lifetime is a very real risk.

“We are staring down the barrel of the permanent loss of a global natural icon, and a huge part of the Queensland economy.  Tens of thousands of people depend on the Reef for jobs and incomes, and regional centres greatly rely on the tourism the Reef generates.

“We are calling on Minister Frydenberg to get to Cairns and prioritise the Great Barrier Reef and serious action on climate change”.

The Queensland Conservation Council welcomed the work currently being done by the Queensland government to develop a new, comprehensive strategy for state responses to climate change.   But it also highlighted that a plan which did not address the issue of domestic use and extraction of coal and other fossil fuels would have a credibility gap.  The group also expressed the need for bi-partisan support for action.

“Queensland should once again be a leader on climate change action, and we acknowledge the leadership of state Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles in endeavouring to achieve this”, Dr Seelig added.

“However, the prospect of new coal mines, such as the proposed Adani mine, remains as a large elephant in the room. We understand regional employment and wellbeing is vital, but a globally-polluting mega coal mine is not the answer. It is a short-term option that will make climate change worse, condemning places like the Great Barrier Reef.

“Now is the time for the Palaszczuk government to truly show leadership on climate action, and jettison its backing for the Adani mine in favour of better, more sustainable options.

“It’s also time for Queensland LNP leader Tim Nicholls to step up to the plate.

“Rather than having the major political parties in lock-step on new coal mines, they should be agreeing around strong, urgent action to tackle run-away climate change”.

 For further information or comment contact:

Queensland Conservation Council Coordinator Dr Tim Seelig on 0439 201 183

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