The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most remarkable ecosystems on Earth. But this natural treasure is a canary in the coal mine in terms of climate change impacts. 2016 and 2017 saw unprecedented back-to-back coral bleaching events with impacts stretching over 1500km – two-thirds of the length of the Reef. It is estimated that half of the shallow water corals in the Reef are now dead.
Over 64,000 Australian jobs depend on a healthy Reef which contributes an estimated $6.4 billion the Australian economy. While there are many local stresses that impact on the Reef, climate change is the biggest single threat to this unique ecosystem.
Protecting our natural assets and the livelihoods that rely on them is critical to build community resilience in the context of global warming. In many parts of Australia, the reckless expansion of the coal and gas industries is putting our most precious natural resources – clean air, clean water, prime farmland and our natural treasures – at risk. The enormous political influence of the mining industry means that regulations to limit the environmental impacts of mining remain weak and are poorly enforced.
The Sunrise Project works at the intersection of ecosystem protection and energy transition, with a focus on protecting the environment from the negative impacts of fossil fuel extraction.
Fight for the Reef
Working alongside conservation groups and tourism operators, we work to highlight the threats to the Reef and to advocate for stronger Reef protections. Over the past years, we have supported a wide range of organisations that successfully halted numerous damaging dredging projects and secured a ban on dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
Protecting water, farmland and nature
We support communities working at a state level to improve laws that protect groundwater, air quality, prime farmland and the environment. While there is much work to do, our partner groups have won significant reforms to prevent mining and gas fracking on important areas of prime farmland.