The majority of the Great Barrier Reef will soon perish despite any dramatic emissions reduction attempts, a new report by a global climate science body has reported.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released on Monday revealed coral reefs will dwindle by 70% to 90% if global temperatures rise by just 1.5 degrees Celsius. Should global warming hit 2 degrees, over 99% of the reef will die.
Ultimately, the report found the world is currently heading toward abysmal global temperature increases of closer to 3 and 4 degrees Celsius.
The report, which references over 6,000 scientific studies, urges world leaders to implement "rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes" and commit to limiting global temperature increases to under 1.5 degrees instead of the original Paris climate agreement of below 2 degrees.
“Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” https://t.co/qcoTGMnuxq ⬅️ Read @IPCC_CH press release on special report by the @UN Intergovernmental Panel on #ClimateChange#SR15#COP24#ParisAgreementpic.twitter.com/FHC2kZkoDI— UN Climate Change (@UNFCCC) October 8, 2018
Director of the Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University, Mark Howden, contributed to the report and stated all emissions reduction possibilities — including fossil fuels reductions — must be utilized to save small sections of the reef.
"We're not on track," he said, claiming carbon pollution now needs to be cut by 45% by 2030, instead of 20% under the former 2 degree objective.
"We're currently heading for about three degrees or four degrees Celsius of warming by 2100. If we're to achieve those sorts of cuts in emissions, then we need deep changes in all aspects of society — that's energy, land, building, transport, food, diet, and cities," he added.
Every half a degree matters— Mark Howden (@ProfMarkHowden) October 9, 2018
Every year matters
Every choice matters
My attempt (with fab help from @bec_colvin ) on the key messages from the 783 pages of the comprehensive #SR15@IPCC_CH report. @ANU_Climate@ReisingerAndy
University of New South Wales climate scientist Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick echoed Howdens comments.
"At 1.5 degrees, there is a good chance of saving 10% to 30% of current coral ecosystems," she told SBS. "There is also a good chance that drought severity will be less in a 1.5 degree world, having ramifications for water availability and food security."
In April, the Australian government pledged $500 million dollars to improve water quality, invest in coral restoration, and enhance underwater monitoring throughout the Great Barrier Reef. The investment is the largest of its kind to date.
Critics claimed, however, that the investment did nothing to actually tackle the root causes of climate change.
The report’s conclusions will be presented and discussed by policy makers during the United Nations Climate Talks conference in Poland this December.