Australia’s environment ‘poor and deteriorating,’ report warns

Sydney, Australia, Jul 19 (EFE).- The state of Australia’s environment is “poor and deteriorating” as a result of climate change, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and mining, according to the latest State of the Environment Report published Tuesday.

“Previous reports mostly spoke of climate change impacts as happening in future. In this report, we document significant climate harms already evident from the tropics to the poles,” said Ian Cresswell, Terri Janke and Emma Johnston, authors of the document, in an article published Tuesday in The Conversation.

The five-yearly report indicates that Australia, which has some 600,000 native species, has one of the highest rates of species decline among developed countries.

Since 2016, when the last report was released, more than 200 species of plants and animals, including the koala, have been added to its endangered species list.

This marsupial is one of the main victims of the 2019-20 “Black Summer” bushfires that affected up to 3 billion animals, and is also a victim of habitat loss due to deforestation and the introduction of invasive species since colonization at the end of the 17th century.

The document also indicates that Australia has lost more than 7.7 million hectares of land habitat between 2000 and 2017 and there are now more non-native plant species than native ones.

There has been an increase in land temperatures by a mean of 1.4 degrees Celsius, and 1.1C in oceans since records began.

Rising ocean temperatures caused mass coral bleaching events in 2016, 2017 and 2020, affecting the health of the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral system located in northeastern Australia and which is at risk of being added to the United Nations’ list of World Heritage in Danger.

The report “tells a story of crisis and decline in Australia’s environment [and] of a decade of government inaction and willful ignorance,” Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said, according to public broadcaster ABC.

The minister of the Labor Party, which won the elections in May with the promise of adopting more decisive measures against the climate crisis, alluded to the previous management of the conservative coalition, which did not publish this report ahead of the May federal election despite having received it in December last year.

The Labor government has already improved its emissions reduction target from 26-28 percent to 43 percent by 2030, as well as maintaining the commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050. EFE


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