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The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) says news that the Australian government will build a new gas-fired power plant in New South Wales is the very last thing our Great Barrier Reef needs.

The $600m publicly-funded Kurri Kurri gas development in the Hunter Valley will be an expensive folly for the taxpayer and another fossil fuel disaster for our Reef as it recovers from three global heating-driven mass bleaching events in five years.

David Cazzulino, AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaigner said the announcement was staggering for many reasons, not least because the International Energy Agency has just announced that governments need to stop building new fossil fuel developments now if there is any hope of reaching net zero emissions by 2050. Their report also predicts big drops in gas demand.

“Instead of approving new polluting power stations, our government must be doing all it can to give our Reef a secure future and committing to renewables instead,” said Mr Cazzulino.

“In less than two months, this government’s management of our Reef will come under scrutiny by the World Heritage Committee. Building a fossil gas plant that makes no economic sense is really not a good look going into this important meeting.

“Only the strongest and fastest possible action on climate change will reduce the risks and limit the impacts of climate change on our precious Reef. Approving new fossil fuel power plants is going in the opposite direction of where we need to be, especially when there are cheaper, cleaner ways to plug energy generation gaps with renewables. It’s an irresponsible investment for our international icon.

“Right now, Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley is considering whether to approve another fossil fuel development – the Clive Palmer-owned Central Queensland Coal project, which will be located just 10km from our Reef World Heritage Area. For the sake of our beautiful world wonder, the marine wildlife and communities who depend on it, we are calling on the minister to reject this mine.”