The world has lost nearly one-fifth of its coral reefs, and much of the rest could be destroyed by increasingly acidic seas if climate change continues unchecked, a conservation group warned Wednesday.
Rising temperatures from greenhouses gases are the latest and most serious threats to coral, which are already being damaged by destructive fishing methods and pollution, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
About 19 percent of coral reefs have disappeared during the last 20 years, said IUCN's director general, Julia Marton-Lefèvre.
"If current trends in carbon dioxide emission continue, many of the remaining reefs will be lost in the next 20 to 40 years," Marton-Lefèvre said at Wednesday's U.N. talks, which are focused on creating a new climate change treaty.
"Climate change must be limited to the absolute minimum if we want to save coral reefs. We need to move forward and substantially cut emissions," she said.
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