Carbon price a down-payment on a healthy environment
“The carbon price and associated reforms lay the foundation for an ambitious response from Australia to the global challenge of climate change and the threats this poses to the natural environment,” said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman.
“Australia has some of the most unique and biologically important ecosystems on the planet. Yet these places of immense natural beauty and wonder are also among the most vulnerable to the changing climate.”
Examples of ecological damage from a more extreme and hostile climate in Australia include:
• In Australia’s southwest, home to our only globally recognised ‘biodiversity hotspot’, a 15 per cent reduction in rainfall since the 1970sand the occurrence of extreme heatwaves have been linked to significant habitat loss1 for threatened species like the honey possum2;
• In Western Australia over 200 endangered Carnaby’s black cockatoos died during a single heatwave event in 20103;
• The Great Barrier Reef has experienced eight major coral bleaching events from elevated sea temperatures since 1979, with no such events previously recorded4;
• Sea turtles are particularly vulnerable, with higher temperatures and sea level rise threatening nesting and reproductive processes5.
In addition, predicted increases in the frequency or intensity of extreme events6 will lead to further habitat destruction, and place our precious wildlife at even more risk over the coming years.
“Much attention has been given to the hip-pocket impacts of the carbon price, but we urge Australians to see this as down-payment to protect our natural wonders from the devastating impacts of climate change,” Mr O’Gorman said.
Charlie Stevens, National Media Manager, WWF-Australia, 0424 649 689
1. Climate Commission (2012), The Critical Decade: Western Australia and Climate Change Impacts, http://climatecommission.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/4259-CC-WA-Key-Messages-4.2-Web.pdf.
2. Bradshaw, D., Phillips, R., Tomlinson, S., Holley, R., Jennings, S. and Bradshaw, F. J. (2007) Ecology of the Honey possum, Tarsipes rostratus, in Scott National Park, Western Australia. Australian Mammalogy. 29: 25-38.
3. McKechnie, A. et al (2012), “Feeling the heat: Australian landbirds and climate change”, Emu, 2012, 112, i–vii, CSIRO Publishing, http://www.publish.csiro.au/?act=view_file&file_id=MUv112n2_ED.pdf.
4. Climate Commission (2011), The Critical Decade: Update of Science, risks and responses, http://climatecommission.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/4108-CC-Science-WEB_3-June.pdf
5. Fuentes, M et al (2009), “Marine Reptiles”. In A Marine Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Report Card for Australia 2009 (eds. Poloczanska, E. et al), NCCARF Publication, http://www.oceanclimatechange.org.au/content/images/uploads/MarineReptiles_FINAL.pdf.
6. IPCC (2012) Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. A Special Report of Working Groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, http://ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/report/full-report/