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Heart Reef in the Great Barrier Reef via Yanguang Lan Unsplash.
Environment

United Nations Issues Dire Warning for the Great Barrier Reef


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Without urgent and widespread intervention to mitigate climate change, the Great Barrier Reef will cease to exist. Rising sea temperatures won't just affect the animal and plant species that call the reef home — they will also greatly impact local economies throughout Australia. Take action on the issue of climate change here.

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.

Take Action: Call on new Prime Minister Scott Morrison to work towards a better Australia.

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.

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. 

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."

Related Stories May 29, 2018 The Great Barrier Reef Nearly Died 5 Times. This Could Be Its Last Chance.

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. 

Related Stories Sept. 18, 2018 Australia Will Miss Its Paris Agreement Commitment by 1 Billion Tonnes of Carbon Dioxide
The report’s conclusions will be presented and discussed by policy makers during the United Nations Climate Talks conference in Poland this December.