Howard blasted over Barrier Reef report –

Howard blasted over Barrier Reef report Published:  30 January, 2007

Under fire:Prime Minister John Howard

THE Great Barrier Reef could be “functionally extinct” within decades, a confidential draft of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned .

According to The Age, the dire prediction comes as the Great Barrier Reef Foundation – a non-profit philanthropic fund – ups the pressure on Australia’s business community to support scientific research to save the reef.

The IPCC report found that coral bleaching of the reef was likely to become an annual event by 2030 because of warmer, more acidic seas.

It takes at least a decade for coral to start recovering from severe bleaching, but with average temperatures predicted to increase by about three degrees, parts of the reef could die.

Mr Rudd said the government should have acted sooner to avoid the impending ecological disaster and accused Prime Minister John Howard of being “missing in action” on the issue.

“Mr Howard has had more than a decade to act on the Great Barrier Reef and on climate change and has failed to act,” Mr Rudd said.

“The first thing the federal government can do is recognise that climate change is real.

“Mr Howard’s cabinet still has in it an industry minister who only a few months ago said climate change was a pile of hogwash.”

Mr Rudd said Australia should implement its own national emissions trading scheme and develop an effective renewable energy target, instead of following the US in ignoring the Kyoto protocol.

Democrats leader Senator Lyn Allison said if Mr Howard continued to “dither” on the issue it would spell economic and environmental catastrophe for Australia.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace has called on new environment minister Malcolm Turnbull to reverse Australia’s track record on climate change by switching to renewable energy sources.

The Reef contributes $5.8 billion to the Australian economy annually. It’s a figure the Great Barrier Reef Foundation hopes will hold sway with Australia’s business leaders as it ramps up its campaign for funding to save the Australian icon.

Foundation chief executive Judith Stewart said the group had raised about $7 million since its inception in 1999 to research threats to the reef.

“It’s very important and we see it as an important test of our generation to do all that we can in the face of a significant threat,” she said.

“Our role is to get out there and get people interested in the reef and educate them that it’s under threat.”

Malcolm Turnbull, who was sworn in as federal Environment Minister, said the government already had a plan to help manage the effects of climate change on the reef.

“The Australian government has recognised the reef as a priority area, recognising that it is vulnerable to climate change,” Mr Turnbull said in a statement.

“We are already well under way in developing an action plan with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to help manage the impacts of climate change on the reef.

“The Australian government’s response to climate change has been fast, decisive and realistic, evidenced by the fact we were the first government in the world to establish a dedicated climate change office, the Australian Greenhouse Office, a decade ago.” is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.

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