13th International Coral Reef Symposium Honolulu, Hawaii USA
June 19 – 24, 2016
June 25, 2016
To: Honorable Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister, Commonwealth Government of Australia
From: The International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS), June 19-24, 2016, Honolulu, Hawaii
The International Society for Reef Studies (ISRS) and their combined voices of over 2,500 coral reef scientists, managers, policy makers and stakeholders.
The International Society for Reef Studies is the leading scientific organization that produces, publishes and disseminates scientific knowledge and understanding of coral reefs worldwide. As is well known, coral reefs are among the most biological diverse ecosystems on the planet and provide ecosystems services to over 500 million people worldwide.
Coral reefs, however, are threatened with complete collapse under rapid climate change. Fifty percent of coral reefs have already been destroyed by a combination of local and global factors. Additional serious degradation will occur over the next two decades as temperatures continue to rise.
As a result of reef destruction, a quarter of all marine species are at risk and the associated economic losses will expose hundreds of millions of people to decreasing food security and increased poverty. This year has seen the worst mass bleaching in history, threatening many coral reefs around the world including the whole of the northern Great Barrier Reef, the biggest and best-known of all reefs.
The damage to this Australian icon has already been devastating. In addition to damage from greenhouse gasses, port dredging and shipping of fossil fuels across the Great Barrier Reef contravene Australia’s responsibilities for stewardship of the Reef under the World Heritage Convention.
We call upon the Australian Commonwealth Government to stop endorsing the export of coal, and specifically to stop or revoke the approval of new mines, including those in Queensland, which have the potential to become the world’s biggest and most harmful single sources of atmospheric pollution.
Australia is a currently perceived as a laggard compared to other developed countries in pursuing the urgent pathway to a low carbon economy, and committing to deep action on climate change.
We urge you to improve the protection of the Great Barrier Reef on climate change, and lead-not-follow on this critically important global issue.
Robert H. Richmond, Ph.D. Ruth Gates, Ph.D. Convener, ICRS President, ISRS Past President, ISRS