CLIMATE change will inflict more than $37 billion worth of damage to the Great Barrier Reef over the next century, a report has found.
The Oxford Economics report, commissioned by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, put the economic cost of permanent coral bleaching to the reef at $37.7bn.
The report placed the entire value of the reef, regarded as one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, to the Australian economy at $51.4bn.
It claims as many as 50 per cent of tourists who would normally visit coral sites on the reef would stay away if widespread permanent bleaching occurred.
The worst affected area would be the tourism hub of Cairns where, the report claims, coral bleaching would deliver a $16.3bn blow to the local economy.
Great Barrier Reef Foundation CEO Judy Stewart said the report should serve as a wake-up call on the importance of protecting the reef.
“While it may alarm some people, its key message is that if we value the reef at all, we must do all in our power to preserve it as well as the neighbouring communities that benefit from it,” Ms Stewart said.
“We are at a crossroads. We need to act now.
“While we acknowledge that reducing emissions globally is fundamental to the reef’s future, we must also develop the solutions and adaptation strategies which will directly address the impacts of climate change impacts which are already being felt.”