‘A deadly blow’: Confirmation of global mass coral bleaching event a direct result of fossil fuel decisions

SYDNEY, Tuesday 16 April 2024The International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) and US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have today confirmed the world is experiencing its fourth global coral bleaching event — the second in the last 10 years.

This comes as experts this week warned that the Great Barrier Reef may be suffering its ‘most severe’ bleaching on record with damage extending up to 18 metres below the surface, and coral mortality beginning to unfold.

2023 saw the hottest ocean temperatures ever recorded — “astounding” levels of heat which supercharged freak weather events around the world. Bleaching-level heat stress, fuelled by the climate crisis, continues to be extensive across the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. 

David Ritter, CEO at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said that following on from what was the hottest year on record, news of a worldwide coral bleaching is another red alert for Earth, and all the life it sustains.

“Mere days after researchers confirmed the most severe coral bleaching on record for the Great Barrier Reef, international agencies have announced that the world is experiencing its fourth global coral bleaching event. 

“The blame for the existential danger facing our reefs lays squarely with the main culprits fuelling global warming: fossil fuel companies, and the governments who prop up this industry.

“The science is crystal clear that climate change, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, is warming our oceans and leading to increasingly severe and frequent coral bleaching events worldwide. Corals die when bleaching events are too prolonged or severe.

“Every government decision to allow more coal, oil, and gas to be extracted and burned is a deadly blow to the future of the Great Barrier Reef, and reefs worldwide. The loss of reefs would have devastating ecological and economic consequences for billions of people worldwide — including our Pacific neighbours whose very culture and identities are intrinsically entwined with the ocean.

“We are running out of runway to avoid irreversible climate disaster, and must act quickly to ensure an immediate end to new fossil fuels. Governments and decision makers simply cannot allow new fossil fuel projects to go ahead if we want to address climate change and give the Great Barrier Reef and all reefs a fighting chance at survival.”


For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Kate O’Callaghan on 0406 231 892 or kate.ocallaghan@greenpeace.org

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