FAMED naturalist Sir David Attenborough will draw world attention to the plight of the Great Barrier Reef this weekend at an exclusive event during the Paris climate summit.
In the early hours of Sunday 6 December (AEST) the legendary broadcaster will take part in a panel discussion in Paris on how to ensure a future for coral reefs which are threatened by climate change.
He will be joined by Sir Richard Branson, Dr Sylvia Earle, Director General of WWF-International Marco Lambertini, and Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg from the University of Queensland. The discussion will be followed by a preview screening of Sir David’s highly anticipated BBC series – Great Barrier Reef, which was filmed late last year.
Sir David recently spoke about his first trip to the Great Barrier Reef in 1957, saying:
“People say to me, ‘what was the most magical thing you ever saw in your life?’…and I always say without a word of exaggeration, ‘the first time I was lucky enough to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef’. As I entered the water I remember suddenly seeing these amazing multi-coloured species living in communities… just astounding and unforgettable beauty.”
But earlier this year Sir David raised the threat to the Reef from climate change when he was interviewed by US President Barack Obama for a television special:
SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: “…The real problem on the reef is the global one which is what is happening with the increase in acidification and the rise in the ocean temperature and the Australians have done research on coral now and they know for sure it will kill coral”.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: “Right”.
SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: “… I believe that if we find ways of generating and storing power from renewable resources, we will make the problem with oil and coal and other carbon problems disappear because economically we will wish to use these other methods. And if we do that, a huge step will have been taken towards solving the problems of the earth”.
The panel discussion comes at crucial time for the Reef as world leaders gather in Paris to thrash out the next agreement for limiting the impact of global warming. Scientists rank climate change as the biggest threat to the Reef and Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg says a world coral bleaching event now underway could cause widespread damage to the Reef in 2016.
WWF is one of the organisers of the Reef event. WWF-Australia spokesperson Richard Leck said: “We are delighted that the world’s most famous naturalist Sir David Attenborough is putting the spotlight on the world’s most loved reef.
“Coral reefs such as the Great Barrier Reef provide over half a billion people with food and livelihoods. They also support over a million species including 1 in every 4 fish species.
“To save coral reefs and other vulnerable ecosystems leaders must make strong commitments to reduce emissions.
“Clean, renewable energy is winning the race against dirty, polluting fossil fuels like coal and gas. The momentum behind renewable energy is unstoppable, and we need world leaders to set policies to accelerate it if we are to protect the world’s coral reefs,” he said.