Federal government action to address climate change and protect the Great Barrier Reef would result in worldwide benefits, a Queensland senior lecturer says.
Scott Heron, senior lecturer of physics at James Cook University, said Australia had a golden opportunity to be a world leader in addressing the biggest threat to one of the country's environmental icons.
As the federal government prepares to hand over a progress report to the United Nations on protections for the reef, Dr Heron said action on climate change needed to be the focus.
"My concern is that while this document will speak of the very good responses and actions which have been taken (to protect the reef), it won't have enough information about addressing climate change and transitioning off fossil fuels," he said on Friday.
Embracing renewable energy and reducing coal mining to limit the use of fossil fuels in countries Australia exports to, would show leadership according to the senior lecturer.
He said per capita, Australia was one of the highest producers of emissions in the world and taking these steps would have positive consequences globally.
"Anything that is done on climate change for the Great Barrier Reef is going to have an effect on the other 1120 World Heritage listed sites," Dr Heron said.
"These sites are the jewel in the crown, the best of the best, and reducing the climate vulnerability of the GBR is going to have benefits for reducing the potential impacts from climate change on all World Heritage Properties."
Australian Associated Press