Queensland scientists announced in May that a staggering 35% of corals in central and northern parts of the Great Barrier Reef are dying after a coral bleaching event earlier this year.
Bleaching occurs when environmental stress causes corals to expel the coloured algae from their tissues, leaving the coral vulnerable and often leading to death. The biggest triggers of bleaching are high water temperature and ocean acidification, both worsening due to the burning of fossil fuels.
Both Labor and the Coalition have made some commitments to invest in research and monitoring, and to support private investment in renewable energy near the reef’s catchment area. But this won’t repair the damage that has already been done.
The pro-big business policies of both the major parties have contributed to the reef’s condition. State and federal governments have presided over the expansion of the brown coal industry, fuelling climate change. In Queensland, the Carmichael coal mine, an environmentally devastating project proposed by multinational Adani Group, has the full support of both Labor and the Liberal National Party.
It’s not too late to save the Great Barrier Reef, but the profit interests of big coal are a serious obstacle to real action on climate change. The Socialist Party calls for the coal industry to be brought into public control so that a rapid transition to renewable energy can be carried out. At the same time we need a fully-funded plan to properly address the health of the Great Barrier Reef with input from conservation and community groups.
By Jeremy Trott