11 July 2017


WWF-Australia says leadership on climate change is needed now more than ever after UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee raised the bar on what nations need to do to save their heritage listed coral reefs.

At last week’s meeting in Poland, the committee called for the most ambitious implementation yet of the Paris Agreement saying nations need to pursue efforts to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels in order to save World Heritage reefs, including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

WWF-Australia head of Oceans Richard Leck attended the meeting. He said “Every country must do its fair share to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 °C and Australia is not close to doing enough."

"If all countries make the same level of effort as Australia in reducing emissions, global temperature will rise by 3-4 °C by the end of the century, killing all reef corals world-wide.”

"Coral bleaching caused by climate change is greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef and has caused the loss of 49% of coral in the last 18 months” said Richard Leck.

The World Heritage Committee announcement came as the Queensland Government released the state’s climate strategy - Pathways to a Clean Growth Economy - which aims to drive carbon pollution down to zero by 2050.

“WWF welcomes the Queensland Government’s new clean growth economy strategy, particularly large-scale renewable energy, comprehensive native vegetation management legislation and the proposed sustainable biofuels strategy” said Mr Leck.

“To fully embrace a clean energy future and save the Great Barrier Reef, all other Australian Governments including the Queensland Government, should adopt a 2030 emission reduction target of 60-80% below present levels and take sensible steps to achieve it including plan for the closure of coal-fired power stations.”

The Queensland Climate Adaptation Strategy and Queensland Climate Transition Strategy are available to download:

WWF-Australia media contact:

Paula Kruger, Senior Manager News and Public Affairs, 0407 067 303