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Great Barrier Reef to go extinct in 12 years: climate report

BRISBANE, Australia: Queensland’s current carbon emissions would cause the extinction of most of the Great Barrier Reef within 12 years if replicated worldwide, a new report revealed.

The report by Climate Analytics, a leading science institute funded by the World Bank, recommends Queensland stop burning coal for power by 2030 to play its part in keeping global heating to 1.5 Celsius under the UN’s Paris Agreement targets, agreed to by Australia in 2016.

Climate Analytics found hitting the necessary emissions reduction target would spell the end of Queensland thermal coal exports by 2040.

Queensland is Australia’s biggest carbon-emitting state and will blow its total “carbon budget” of 1.2 gigatonnes by 2031 if its carbon dioxide emissions remain at their 2017 rate, the report found.

The first-ever analysis of an Australian state’s future emissions under the Paris Agreement paints world climate goals as being on a collision course with political support for coal in Queensland.

A “Paris-compatible benchmark scenario” would instead require Queensland to shift to 64% renewable, 1% oil and no coal by 2030.

Climate Analytics director Bill Hare said that meant cutting emissions from electricity by 74% by 2030.

“That’s very deep, it’s fast, but it’s feasible — and will likely lower power costs for consumers throughout the state,” he said.

Hare said abandoning thermal coal was “not even really a choice because if you want to have a Great Barrier Reef for the future, then we really need the world to limit its emissions sufficiently to hold warming to 1.5C”.

The report comes as Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan is pushing for a new coal-fired power station to be built in central Queensland and mining giant Adani plans to open the Galilee Basin for 60 years of coal exports.

Under the Paris Agreement, nations pledged to keep global heating “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels, “pursuing efforts” to limit heating to 1.5C.

The Climate Analytics report said a rise of more than 1.5C would “virtually guarantee the extinction of most of the Great Barrier Reef based on present scientific knowledge, even if warming were limited to 2C”.