A coalition of 45 countries pledged Tuesday
to raise $12 billion for conservation and restoration of coral reefs, whichare threatened worldwide by the effects of climate change.
The “Coral Reef Breakthrough” was announced by a network of nations thataccount for three-quarters of the world’s coral reefs.
It includes a pledge to double the area of coral reefs under protection fromthe current estimate of around 60,000 square kilometres (23,000 squaremiles), and restore some 10,500 sq km.
The plan, announced by the International Coral Reef Initiative, includes aheadline pledge to secure $12 billion in investments from public and privatesources by 2030.
“This investment will enable more effective coral reef management includingwater quality management, coastal management, and local and regionalregulations,” the group announced.
Still, that figure compares with the estimated $174.5 billion a year that a2020 study estimated was needed to plug the gap in funding for oceanconservation more broadly.
The pledge comes with coral reefs around the world under particularly acutestress because of record warm seas this year.
Marine heatwaves — episodes of abnormally high water temperatures — havebecome more frequent and intense.
Oceans have absorbed 90 percent of the excess heat produced by human activitysince the dawn of the industrial age, according to scientists.
This excess heat continues to accumulate as greenhouse gases build up in theEarth’s atmosphere, mainly from burning oil, gas and coal.
Warmer water can cause stressed corals to expel the algae that lives insymbiosis with them, providing them with nutrients and giving them colour.
This bleaching process can result in coral death if temperatures remain toohigh for the algae to return, devastating the ecosystems that rely on reefs.
Mass bleaching has already been reported this year in Florida, with concernthat the worst may be ahead as the El Nino seasonal weather pattern is oftenassociated with bleaching events.