Many of the politicians fighting Australia’s election campaign talk about the economy and immigration but the world is listening for what they say about the impact of climate change

If the rest of the world could vote in next month’s Australian election, there would almost certainly be one issue that would be raised to the top of the country’s political agenda: saving the Great Barrier Reef. Scientists say this year 93% of its reefs experienced some bleaching, and 22% of all of the reef’s coral was killed by unusually warm waters. Unheard of just three decades ago, large-scale bleaching has become a regular occurrence. Within 20 years the conditions that drove this year’s bleaching in Australia will occur every second year. A Guardian report illustrates in vivid detail the scale of the devastation unfolding beneath the surface. Over the past 34 years the average proportion of the Great Barrier Reef exposed to temperatures where bleaching or even death is likely has increased from about 11% a year to about 27% a year.

It is a constant struggle to motivate most people most of the time about climate change. The evidence accumulates slowly; despite being an emergency, it often feels very distant. But in Australia, and on other coral reefs around the world, we can see the sudden and devastating effects of climate change playing out before us. The Great Barrier Reef is under severe threat. Emergency action is needed on a much more ambitious scale than is now being planned. According to a Unesco report on climate change and world heritage sites, if we want to save even 10% of coral reefs around the world, the world needs to limit warming to 1.5C. And to save half of them, the world needs to limit warming to 1.2C – a tall order, when the world has already warmed by 1C.

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Source: Guardian Environment