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Aerial view of Hardy Reef taken on 20 June 2017 to assess if the Heart Reef has been bleached © WWF-Aus / Christian Miller

Aerial view of the Heart Reef, Great Barrier Reef © WWF-Aus / Christian Miller

Updated Reef 2050 fails to acknowledge “the elephant in the room”

19 Aug 2020

Keywords
  • great barrier reef
  • queensland
  • renewable energy

The updated draft Reef 2050 Plan, released today, acknowledges that for the Reef to survive, global temperatures need to be limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

 

“WWF welcomes that recognition. However, the updated plan ignores the elephant in the room. Australia is way off track on achieving 1.5°C and missing an opportunity to be a world leader on renewable energy,” said World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia Head of Oceans Richard Leck.

 

At the end of last year, WWF-Australia said to avoid an in-danger listing, ‘The Australian government should urgently commit to develop a national Energy Transition Plan that is 1.5C compatible, undertaking our fair share of emissions reduction to hold the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels’.

“That hasn’t happened. But with the right leadership and investment Australia can be a renewable energy powerhouse, sparking a jobs bonanza, and helping to save the Reef at the same time,” said Mr Leck.

In June, a WWF-commissioned report by EY (formerly Ernst & Young) mapped out how a clean stimulus package could generate over 100,000 jobs and rebuild Australia’s economy post COVID-19.

Mr Leck said reforms to fishing policy require urgent attention to deliver the world-class fisheries management the plan outlines.

“WWF is concerned that the implementation of the Queensland government’s Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027 has stalled with many actions already overdue.

“First cab off the rank should be the creation of a Net-Free North, an 85,000km2 safe haven for our unique marine wildlife in the northern Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Leck said.

Mr Leck recognised the progress the Queensland Government has made on regulations to reduce Reef water pollution.

However, he said current investments and actions on water quality are not making sufficient progress to meet the 2025 Reef water quality targets.

“Further actions and investments to reduce farm pollution need to be identified and locked in the updated Reef 2050 Plan to put us on track to meet those targets,” he said.

Mr Leck said the recognition of Traditional Owner aspirations and their role is a welcome step forward.