Cli­mate deal to save the reef

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

THE first univer­sal cli­mate agree­ment has been passed, and is hoped to have sig­nif­i­cant im­pacts across the world, in­clud­ing here in the Whit­sun­days.

The his­tor­i­cal agree­ment re­quires coun­tries across the globe to limit global warm­ing to well be­low two de­grees, with a goal of 1.5 de­grees. The re­duc­tion in tem­per­a­ture will help limit the im­pact cli­mate change has on the Great Bar­rier Reef, pre­vent­ing co­ral bleach­ing and ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion, caused by emis­sions of green­house gases, through the burn­ing of fos­sil fu­els.

A tran­si­tion away from fos­sil fu­els and onto re­new­able en­ergy such as wind and so­lar are some of the changes we can ex­pect to see.

“The im­pacts of cli­mate change are al­ready be­ing felt by the reef,” Tony Fontes of the En­vi­ron­ment Coun­cil of Cen­tral Queens­land ex­plained.

“We had had sig­nif­i­cant co­ral bleach­ing events in 1998 and 2002 (and) we have a very large El Nino weather pat­tern this year which could lead to sig­nif­i­cant bleach­ing this sum­mer,” he said.

“For the past 20 years the world as a col­lec­tive has done lit­tle to com­bat cli­mate change. Al­though late in com­ing, the reef really needs this cli­mate deal.”

Mr Fontes said the Paris agree­ment was also great news for the tourism in­dus­try, de­pen­dent on a healthy reef, worth $6 bil­lion an­nu­ally, and sup­port­ing over 63,000 sus­tain­able jobs.

“Sci­en­tists have made it very clear that if we are to avoid ex­ceed­ing a two de­gree rise in tem­per­a­ture, then 80% of the cur­rently known fos­sil fuel re­serves must stay in the ground,” he said.

“For Aus­tralia, this means no new coal mines, and lo­cally that in­cludes the Carmichael Mine in the Galilee Basin.

“We should look at this as an eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity, as the Whit­sun­days can be­come an en­ergy en­tre­pre­neur, with am­ple wind and so­lar.”

CLI­MATE CHAM­PI­ONS: Lo­cals Tony and Bev­er­ley Fontes.

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