VOICES FOR THE EARTH: Coral bleaching generates urgency

THE massive coral bleaching along the length of the Great Barrier Reef has generated a sense of urgency about climate change in the minds of many people, including some politicians.

Late on April 20, Federal Environment Minister Hunt held a teleconference with Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles and Environment Ministers from other states. This took place just before Mr Hunt left to sign the Paris Climate Agreement.

The late-night discussion was in response to Mr Miles's concern about the extensive coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. He wanted to discuss with colleagues from other states and Mr Hunt how Australia could improve its reduction of carbon emissions because he believes this bleaching shows that much more needs to be done.

A positive outcome of the teleconference was an agreement to hold weekly meetings to discuss climate change action which Mr Miles says gives the issue a level of prominence it has not had since the election of the Coalition Government.

Whether that will lead to any improved Federal Government action is another matter. However, given the Federal election is imminent, the Government will no doubt be anxious to show that it does take climate change seriously - even though its record on this issue is quite appalling. Election proximity can bring surprising results as we have seen recently in the case of increased funding for ASIC.

While the Queensland Government is to be applauded for putting pressure on the Federal Government to improve its act in reducing emissions, it is also culpable on the climate front. How ironic it is that this massive reef bleaching occurred around the time that the Queensland Government announced final approvals for Adani's Carmichael coalmine in the Galilee Basin. This will lead to the highly controversial port expansion at Abbot Point and the mining of millions of tonnes of coal. Burning this coal in India will impact on Australia and elsewhere in the world.

State and Federal politicians, it's time to consider the climate implications of opening coal mines as well as working to reduce emissions from existing activities.

Leonie Blain, Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition



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