Experts Say Switching To Renewable Energy Now Is The Only Way to Save The Great Barrier Reef

Image: Supplied

64,000 Australia jobs depend on the health of the Great Barrier Reef, contributing $6.4 billion to the Australian economy.

But despite both the economic and obvious environmental benefits to keeping it in tip-top shape, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's second World Heritage Outlook report confirmed the Reef is at a "very high level of threat" from climate change and there is "real concern" that its condition is deteriorating.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature is an international, non-governmental organisation that provides advice to the World Heritage Committee on natural heritage properties. It looks at the current state and trend of values, the threats affecting those values and the effectiveness of protection and management.

The report uses four categories: Good; Good with Some Concern; Significant Concern and Critical.

In 2014, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority found that the state of the Great Barrier Reef was poor, that it had worsened in the last five years and that it was expected to deteriorate further.

Its recent report found that the 2016 and 2017 coral bleaching events have been unprecedented in severity and impacts. It found Cyclone Debbie was the tenth severe cyclone to hit the Reef since 2005. It expressed "critical" concern for corals, reef fish and seabirds.

Other threats such as poor water quality from catchment runoff, impacts from coastal development, illegal and unsustainable fishing and crown-of-thorns starfish also continue to be major threats to the long-term conservation of the property.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society says time is critical if we are to save our Reef.

"The future survival of the Great Barrier Reef depends on a rapid switch from polluting coal to clean renewable energy", said Fight For Our Reef Campaign Director Imogen Zethoven. "The report is a wake up call for all Australian politicians. Immediate action is required before it's too late for our global icon."

Zethoven points to the upcoming Queensland election as "a real test" on whether our leaders are willing to listen to voters' concerns on climate change, and act to save our precious Reef.

"The overwhelming majority of Australians are appalled that $1 billion dollars in taxpayer money could be used to give a leg up to a harmful coal mine. AMCS welcomed the Premier's election promise to veto the Adani loan last week, but now all eyes are on Queensland LNP leader Tim Nicholls to do the same."

Zethoven says for the sake of the thousands of livelihoods and families who rely on the Reef, we have to rule out Adani's "monstrous" coal mine.

"But we can't stop there. Tim Nicholls must reverse his support for a new coal fired power station and deliver at least 5 per cent renewable energy by 2030."

WATCH MORE: Science & Health News


Comments

    Of course it's only Australia's CO2 that is damaging the reef, there is obviously none gets there from anywhere else in the world even though their contribution is 60 times the amount we produce. If we don't produce the high quality coal from Adani then the rest of the world won't source it elsewhere and they will use renewable energy instead. Obvious really.

      Chinese companies are building hundreds of new coal-fired power plants and everyone here gets their knickers in a knot about one.

        funny how you left out the fact china has also cancelled hundreds of planned coal fired power plants and has made strong progress towards renewable engergy?

        https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/22/coal-power-plants-green-energy-china-india

        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/world/asia/china-coal-power-plants-pollution.html

          Beijing cancelled *one* hundred, not hundreds. Chinese firms however, are planning *seven* hundred more.

          http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/chinese-firms-to-build-700-coal-plants

          "However, new data on the world's biggest developers of coal-fired power plants paints a very different picture: China's energy companies will make up nearly half of the new coal generation expected to go online in the next decade.

          These Chinese corporations are building or planning to build more than 700 new coal plants at home and around the world, some in countries that today burn little or no coal, according to tallies compiled by Urgewald, a Berlin-based environmental group. Many of the plants are in China, but by capacity, about a fifth of these new coal power stations are in other countries.

          Overall, 1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries, said Urgewald, which uses data from the Global Coal Plant Tracker portal. The new plants would expand the world's coal-fired power capacity by 43 per cent.

          The fleet of new coal plants would make it virtually impossible to meet the goals set in the Paris climate accord."

          Last edited 15/11/17 1:11 am

        China is also the world leader is both wind and solar power, and have been cancelling a lot of its planned and in-construction coal plants.

        And it's not just CO2 that's the problem with coal. The health effects alone of coal pollution cost Australia over $2.4 billion each year - paid by the public. Factor that into the wholesale price of coal power and see if people still want it.

        But the Adani mine isn't just an indirect threat to the Reef - the Abbott Point port expansion and the increased shipping will both add damage and coral stress to a Reef that's already in critical danger from far too many decades of unrestrained coal burning. Why on earth would you want to make that worse?

      I really enjoy it when people base their arguments on the headline and don't actually read the article.

    Renewables are worthless. If CO2 is actually a problem, the only vaguely feasible answer is nuclear power.

      Renewables are worthless.

      Your evidence to support this claim is?

      If CO2 is actually a problem

      It is a problem, Ever heard of the greenhouse effect? did you miss basic science in highschool?

      the only vaguely feasible answer is nuclear power.

      No, It isnt. Try again bud.

        Go to electricitymap dot org. Click around on the different regions there. It should quickly become obvious see that places with the lowest CO2/MW intensity tend to have most of their demand met by hydropower (Norway, Sweden), or nuclear (France, Finland, Ontario Canada).

        You'll have a hard time finding an industrial economy that has achieved a low CO2/MW score using solar and wind. Even those that appear to have succeeded somewhat (Denmark?) rely heavily on imports from neighbours that haven't.

        There is an obvious reason. System costs rise quickly as more intermittent generators are added to the grid. Moreover intermittency tends to favour fossil fuels as backup power, which undermines the whole goal. Germany offers a prime example of just how wrong this can go, having very little to show for a massive investment in wind backed up by coal.

        There is one exception, which is hydropower: it is both reliable and practical. But it has limited capacity to expand. Australia can't build fjords in the desert. So whenever someone talks about moving to renewables, in practice they mean solar farms and wind turbines. These are useful only in very limited circumstances, impractical for reducing the carbon intensity of economies at scale.

        This is fine as far as most politicians are concerned — all they want is a policy sideshow that makes ignorant voters feel good. But anyone who cares about pissing away billions that would be better spent elsewhere should be up in arms.

      I agree. Though the most entertaining idea I've heard of is, instead of burning bio-fuels and other renewables, just dump them in the ocean. If they end up below the thermocline, they'll stay there until well after we've run out of fossil fuels.
      Since Gaia recycles half of the CO2 produced by burning fuel, it makes better sense to dump crop residue, grass clippings, forests and indeed all flora and fauna in the ocean rather than use it. I love to imagine the Amazon rain forest, and all the rest of the world, clear cut to ground level, with giant robot lawnmowers continually trimming off the slightest shoot.
      Continuous lines of trucks'd be carrying the products of the entire terrestrial biosphere to the wharves, to be shipped to the middle of the ocean for dumping. Funerals'd once more be tying a cannon ball to your feet and dumping you overboard.
      When I consider just how much of the globe produces vegetation, I'd say there'd be more than enough to counter-balance any use of fossil fuel.

      Nuclear actually isn't feasible anymore as from an economic perspective it's per kW it costs too much. No one will invest in it anymore.

    Nothing to do with the huge increase in shipping then... Never seems to get a mention that the huge container ships and oil tankers spew out the same amount of pollution that a few 100 million cars make... Per container ship... Then there's the toxic sludge they burn...
    No news here..

    or we can go with new Breeder reactors, with the far safer alternatives Thorium and uranium-238

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now