Marine conservationists have highlighted the priority of tackling global warming following the announcement of new projects to build the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.

While the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) welcomes work to strengthen our Reef’s capacity to deal with warming waters, it says policies that tackle global warming, which is driving damaging mass coral bleaching events, need to be prioritised.

Great Barrier Reef campaigner Shani Tager said: “Reducing Australia’s reliance on fossil fuels and transitioning to clean renewable energy are policies that will safeguard our Reef’s future.

“While investment into helping Reef ecosystems and communities is welcomed, what our Reef needs is the Morrison Government to deliver decisive action to reduce emissions.

“The solutions to climate change – our Reef’s biggest threat – are already available and ready to go. We just need politicians to invest in proven, existing technology like wind and solar, and implement Reef safe climate policies that will ensure a bright future for our Reef, the wildlife and Queenslanders it supports.

“These research projects being discussed may take years or decades to develop and when you’re talking about altering a natural ecosystem, some come with risks to our beautiful Reef. Critically, scientists have emphasised any success is reliant on rapidly reducing emissions.

“These projects will be like pushing water uphill with a rake unless accompanied by serious action to cut emissions, which is the missing piece.

“If Australian science can lead the way in adaptive solutions then why can’t the Australian government lead the way in emission reductions, setting an international example as custodians of our Reef?”