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No new funding or climate commitments in Great Barrier Reef update

Adam Morton reports in the Brisbane Times (1.12.16) on details of the federal government’s latest update report on the state of health of the Great Barrier Reef.

‘An Australian government update on what it is doing to protect the wounded Great Barrier Reef includes no new funding and no new commitments to tackle the biggest threat to its health, climate change.

‘The update to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre says good progress has been made since federal and state governments last year committed to a 35-year plan to improve the reef’s health, but it falls short of what scientists believe is necessary.

‘It follows the release of fresh surveys of coral death due to inflated ocean temperatures last summer. The ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies estimated 67 per cent of coral has died in shallow reefs north of Port Douglas, compared with just 1 per cent mortality south of Mackay.

‘In a foreword to the report, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg and his Queensland counterpart Steven Miles say the reef has been severely affected by mass coral bleaching, and that climate change is “the single biggest threat to reefs worldwide – and the Great Barrier Reef is no exception”.

‘… But the report – on the government’s commitments to UNESCO after the body decided last year not to list the reef as “world heritage in danger” – says Australia is acting on global warming through the United Nations talks that led to the Paris climate deal, while the reef plan focuses on reducing local pressures to improve the natural wonder’s resilience.’

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