Report predicts reef could delay annual bleaching

NATURAL BEAUTY: The Great Barrier Reef.
NATURAL BEAUTY: The Great Barrier Reef. Tourism and Events Queensland.

THE Great Barrier Reef is likely to experience annual bleaching but this could be delayed, a United Nations supported study says.

The report, named 'Local-scale projections of coral reef futures and implications of the Paris Agreement' , published by the University of Miami on December 21, predicts annual bleaching will be inevitable for most of the world's reefs by 2043.

However, the Great Barrier Reef would avoid yearly bleaching for a further 25 years if Paris Agreement commitments are enforced.

The Paris Climate Agreement, which has been ratified by the Australian Government, calls on countries to take action to limit global temperature rises to two degrees Celsius.

Australian Marine Conservation Society campaign director Imogen Zethoven said the "alarming” report highlighted Australia needed to go beyond its global obligations.

"Australia committed to one of the weakest targets from developed countries - if all other countries committed to something proportional to Australia we would see temperatures rise by three to four degrees,” Ms Zethoven said.

"We need to put politics to one side and act in the national interest to protect the 69,000 jobs at the reef,” she said.

Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping spokesperson Sandra Williams said recent coral bleaching events highlighted the need for swift action.

"We just saw the worst coral bleaching event recorded on the Great Barrier Reef and we need to protect it from further catastrophic events,” Ms Williams said.

Ms Zethoven said it was important for people to know there was still hope for meaningful change.

"We can't possibly give up on this issue otherwise we would be cheating all the future generations in the world,” she said.

Topics:  great barrier reef unesco whitsundays

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