Fight for the Reef
Fight for the Reef

Coal kills: Why climate change is killing our Great Barrier Reef

Dead coral after bleaching on Lizard Island, May 2016 – The Ocean Agency

What is global warming doing to our Reef?

The world’s coral scientists have given us five years to act on climate change in order to give our Great Barrier Reef its best chance of survival. What happens next is up to us.

Our Great Barrier Reef is in grave danger from global warming – and time is critical. Our Reef has already experienced devastating coral bleaching due to global warming. Underwater heatwaves severely stress corals, leading them to bleach and likely to die. For two years, our beautiful Reef has suffered back-to-back bleaching and is critically ill.

Bleaching has been so bad and extensive, that half of our Reef’s shallow water corals are now dead. This means a 1500km area, equivalent of Sydney to Adelaide, has suffered. An environmental disaster, any more loss of our Reef is also fatal for tourism and fisheries.

Coal kills coral

Coal is to blame. The dirtiest fossil fuel, burning coal is the greatest threat to our climate, catalysing global warming – leading to further Reef bleaching and more extreme weather. A hotter world means warmer oceans. Warmer oceans means more damaged reefs.  Our earth is warming because of climate change. As the dirtiest fossil fuel, coal is the single biggest culprit. The burning of coal is responsible for half of carbon emissions worldwide.

The coal from Adani’s Carmichael mine will create a climate catastrophe. It will further drive dangerous climate change which could see our Reef disappear within 20 years.

Can our Great Barrier Reef bounce back?

Coral reefs are resilient. Our Reef is 8000 years old, and has survived mass die offs before. But human impacts like industrialisation, pollution and warming have left our Reef reeling. Bleached coral can bounce back – if they’ve time and stable conditions. To protect our Reef, we need to stop global warming now, so corals can recover, regrow and build resilience.

No new coal: switch to a renewable future!

The world is rapidly moving away from coal and reducing its carbon pollution, honouring commitments made in Paris to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees – aiming for 1.5. And yet, as if living on another planet, the Australian and Queensland governments have approved the largest coal mine in the southern hemisphere – the Carmichael coal mine – and the expansion of the Abbot Point coal port that would ship the coal through our Reef and out to the world.If we act now, our Reef can recover, rebuild and remain incredible for generations.

We must stop Adani’s mine. We must end coal burning now and cut carbon emissions. We need stronger climate action now to halt global warming – before it’s too late for our Reef. Australia must make a stronger commitment to the Paris agreement – and increase our already weak goals for reducing greenhouse gases between 2020 and 2030.

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So we don't lose the Great Barrier reef