The Great Barrier Reef may have avoided being declared ‘in danger’ of losing its World Heritage listing for now, but the natural wonder’s future is bleak if Australia and the world keep approving new fossil fuel projects, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

UNESCO expressed ‘utmost concern’ about last summer’s shocking coral bleaching and said it would again consider adding the reef to the list of World Heritage in danger sites in 2026.

UNESCO urged Australia to set stronger climate targets.

“The world’s top climate scientists expect 70 to 90% of coral reefs to be lost at 1.5°C of global warming and 99% to be destroyed at 2°C of warming,” said ACF’s climate program manager Gavan McFadzean.

“Unfortunately, Australia and the world are on track for warming of more than 2°C.

“The Albanese government’s Future Gas Strategy, which envisages Australia opening massive new gas fields – Scarborough, Browse, Barossa and Beetaloo – and continuing to burn and export the fossil fuel well beyond 2050, spells danger for the future of the reef.

“Gas is a highly polluting fossil fuel, the burning of which is supercharging coral bleaching, heatwaves, bushfires and flooding in Australia and around the world.

“To replace one fossil fuel with another is not a clean energy transition.

“The Coalition’s nuclear proposal is designed to derail the renewable rollout in Australia and make us reliant of polluting coal and gas for decades more.

“We need strong leadership on cutting emissions and saying no to new and expanded fossil fuel projects if we want our kids to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef.”

In May a group of leading marine scientists wrote to Prime Minister Albanese with a plea to heed the science and reject new coal and gas projects for the sake of the world’s coral reefs. 

In September, ACF will be in the Federal Court trying to stop Woodside’s massive Scarborough gas project from going ahead until its emissions’ impact on the Great Barrier Reef is assessed. 

Header pic: Xanthi Rivett

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