In its five-year report, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority cites the rise in ocean temperature as "the most serious threat" to this UNESCO World Heritage Site, the most vast coral ensemble of the world.
"Major global action to respond to global warming is crucial to slow ecosystem degradation and the reef's heritage value and help its recovery," says the Authority, which is a government agency.
The UN has asked to receive by December a copy of the report, which will be taken into account by UNESCO when the UN agency will decide in 2020 to maintain, or not, the Great Barrier in its list of World Heritage.
In addition to climate change, the Great Barrier Reef, which stretches for approximately 2300 kilometers along Australia's northeastern coast, faces "multiple, compounding and worsening" threats. The report. The document cites agricultural run-off and the ravages of the purple acanthaster, a coral-eating starfish that has proliferated due to pollution.
The AMF explains that this deterioration in the outlook for the Great Barrier Reef reflects the deterioration since 2014 of more portions of the complex that suffered in 2016 and 2017 two episodes of unprecedented bleaching of its corals, a phenomenon due to global warming.
"We are currently in the window of opportunity to allow a long-term improvement of the Great Barrier Reef," says the agency.
Australian government criticized for years
The Australian Conservative government has for years been the target of criticism from NGOs for its inaction in the fight against global warming. The executive is giving priority to its mining sector, especially coal, and to the export of these fossil fuels, which are at the base of Australia's economic success.
Coincidentally, the release of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's report came on the same day as new government figures showed that Australia's greenhouse gas emissions had continued to rise in the first half of the year. semester, a trend that has lasted for four years.
The government says it is behind the targets set by international protocols, including the Paris Agreement, and argues that all emissions are lower than many industrialized countries.
"This report presents global warming as the biggest threat to the reef," said Australian Environment Minister Sussan Ley. "We are doing the things we have to do under the Paris Agreement."