Without urgent global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, many reefs could die out by 2050. This would be an enormous loss to Earth’s biodiversity because of the role that reefs play in providing spawning, breeding and feeding grounds to marine life. Reefs support more species per square metre than any other marine environment. Unfortunately, it is not just the Great Barrier Reef that’s under threat but corals globally.

“In recent years corals around the world have bleached and died because of ocean warming and acidification caused by climate change. From [New] Caledonia, to Hawaii to the Seychelles and Kiribati, reefs are bleaching,” said Earthjustice lawyer and report author Noni Austin.

“Almost one quarter of the [Great Barrier] reef died in 2016 – this is an international tragedy and the plight of coral reefs becomes more dire every year. So corals may not actually survive beyond 2050 unless we take stronger action to tackle climate emissions.”

The Great Barrier Reef contains about 3,000 reefs and 1,050 islands. About 70% of corals are expected to suffer significant damage by 2030.

The reef’s water temperature last month was still about 0.9-2°C above the long term average for this time of year, indicating that further bleaching could occur in 2017. The report claims that bleaching events as happened in 2016 are likely to occur once every two years by the 2030s.

You can read the full report ‘World Heritage and Climate Change’ from Earthjustice and Environmental Justice Australia here.