A new report downgrades the reef’s long-term outlook from ‘poor’ to ‘very poor’ and confirms climate change as the number one threat to the ecosystem.

A key five-yearly report card on the health of the Great Barrier Reef paints a grim picture of the icon’s future if the climate crisis is allowed to continue unabated, increasing pressure on the Federal Government to act, the Australian Conservation Foundation said.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Reef Outlook report, released today, details how two consecutive years of mass coral bleaching in 2016 and 2017, along with the impact of 11 severe tropical cyclones since 2005, have led to an unprecedented decline in reef health.

The report downgrades the reef’s long-term outlook from ‘poor’ to ‘very poor’ and confirms climate change as the number one threat to the ecosystem.

“This report is a very sobering assessment from the body charged with managing the Great Barrier Reef,” said ACF’s Chief Executive Officer, Kelly O’Shanassy.

“The reef – much loved by people around the world – faces unprecedented stresses from the combined impact of erosion runoff from land clearing in its catchments, increasingly frequent and severe cyclones and coral bleaching caused by global warming.

“Immediate national and international action is needed to cut climate pollution to levels that will maintain the ecological function of coral reef ecosystems.

“If we are serious about wanting future generations to be able to appreciate coral reefs, we need to halt the climate pollution that is fuelling global warming and driving the mass coral bleaching that has plagued the Great Barrier Reef and other reefs in recent years.

“As coal is global warming’s number one fuel, Australia needs to shift to clean, renewable energy in the next decade and not make the problem worse by facilitating new coal mines, like Adani’s.

“Australia must do its fair share in the global effort to tackle climate pollution. That means moving on from digging up and burning coal and gas for our energy.

“The window of opportunity to save the reef is open now, but it won’t be for long.”

The Federal Government came under sustained pressure at the Pacific Islands Forum from island nation leaders who pleaded with Australia to commit to transition away from coal.

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