Australia’s Barrier Reef plan touches the surface

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Peter Gash, owner and manager of the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, prepares to snorkel during an inspection of the reef's condition in an area called the 'Coral Gardens' located at Lady Elliot Island, north-east of the town of Bundaberg in Queensland, Australia, June 11, 2015. Gash snorkels every morning before he attends to managing duties on the island. UNESCO World Heritage delegates recently snorkelled on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, thousands of coral reefs, which stretch over 2,000 km off the northeast coast. Surrounded by manta rays, dolphins and reef sharks, their mission was to check the health of the world's largest living ecosystem, which brings in billions of dollars a year in tourism. Some coral has been badly damaged and animal species, including dugong and large green turtles, are threatened. UNESCO will say on Wednesday whether it will place the reef on a list of endangered World Heritage sites, a move the Australian government wants to avoid at all costs, having lobbied hard overseas. Earlier this year, UNESCO said the reef's outlook was "poor". REUTERS/David Gray PICTURE 14 OF 23 FOR WIDER IMAGE STORY "GREAT BARRIER REEF AT RISK" SEARCH "GRAY REEF" FOR ALL PICTURES - GF10000143351

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MELBOURNE, Jan 28 (Reuters Breakingviews) - This may well be the year where significant money is poured into helping the world adapt to climate change read more , a potential $2 trillion annual market within the next five years per Bank of America (BAC.N). But the Australian federal government’s A$1 billion ($700 million) nine-year pledge to help save the Great Barrier Reef which is being bleached by rising global temperatures falls well short of the type of action required to be effective.

The money will be useful: More than half is destined to improve the quality of water. But there’s no mention of reducing one of the biggest causes, deforestation. Some 700,000 hectares of Queensland forests were cut down in 2018, the latest figures available show, almost as much as the Amazon rainforest lost in the same period.

Nor is there any talk of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. With state and federal governments giving fossil-fuel companies including Woodside (WPL.AX) and Chevron (CVX.N)A$10 billion in tax breaks a year, per the Australia Institute, Friday’s investment seems like the proverbial drop in the ocean. (By Antony Currie)

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