The Great Barrier Reef is in danger of losing much of its corals. Mass coral bleaching brought about by climate change damaged as much as 93 percent of the pristine coral reefs, which prodded the Australian government to set aside $1 billion to protect the world heritage site.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the creation of a special $1 billion fund, The Reef Fund, which will focus on clean energy projects for the Great Barrier Reef's catchment areas. Turnbull said the budget is part of the $10 billion special account of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which will also serve as the fund manager via debt and equity in a period of 10 years.

"Climate change is the greatest long-term threat to the Great Barrier Reef and to all coral reefs around the world," said Turnbull. "Australians are passionate about the Great Barrier Reef and the Turnbull government is committed to protecting it for future generations."

Aside from preserving the Great Barrier Reef, the government believes that the special fund will also help boost Queensland's economy through job creation, improved farm profitability and mobilization of public and private investments.

Saving The Great Barrier Reef

Turnbull said that improving the quality of water will have a great impact on preserving much of the reef. Clean water will mitigate outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish and bleaching. For this reason, the fund will invest on projects that would support clean water such as water and energy-efficient irrigation systems, pesticide sprayers and coastal sewage treatment plants.

The fund will also consider investing on solar farms to decrease diesel use and other projects that support renewable energy.

Turnbull also mentioned that the fund will add to the existing $461 million fund previously dedicated to the reef preservation.

Greg Hunt, the government's environmental minister has acknowledged that the commitment is the largest of its kind that the Great Barrier Reef has received so far.

"It's an investment in the legacy for our children, their children and our descendants," said Hunt.

Last month, the Labor announced their own rescue plan for the reef by pledging $500 million that will be spread in five years. The Labor is planning on to put much of its money in research, reef management improvement and direct environmental investments.

Clear Distraction From Coal Mines

The announcement, however, did not sit well with Labor and Greens. Both are saying that this is a diversionary tactic to distract attention from the coal mines.

Greens climate change spokesperson and deputy leader Larissa Waters has qualms about the announcement.

"All of this money is taken from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the government hasn't specified how much will go to clean energy and how much will go to water quality," said Waters.

Photo: Kyle Taylor | Flickr

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