Climate Action

Pacific island to ban sunscreen to protect coral reefs

Palau, a Pacific island nation, is set to become the first country to ban ‘reef-toxic’ sunscreen.

  • 02 November 2018
  • Rachel Cooper

Palau, a Pacific island nation, is set to become the first country to ban ‘reef-toxic’ sunscreen.

The country, located in the north-west Pacific, just west of the Philippines, is a collection of coral and volcanic islands.

The Government has signed a law that restricts the sale and use of sunscreen and skincare products that contain a list of ten different chemicals. The ban will be put into place in 2020.

Sunscreen products can be harmful to coral reefs if they contain two ingredients called oxybenzone and octinoxate. These ingredients, while absorbing ultraviolet light, are reported to make coral reefs more susceptible to bleaching.

In the U.S, Hawaii recently became the first U.S state to ban the sale and distribution of sunscreen products with these ingredients.

This news follows the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) forecasting a 60 per cent chance that the entire Great Barrier Reef will be subject to extreme heat stress and bleaching.

The shocking IPCC report also noted that if global average temperature rise goes above 1.5 degrees Celsius then over 90 per cent of coral reefs could be lost.

This is not the first time Palau has taken measurements to protect the environment. In 2016, it became the second nation to ratify the Paris Agreement and last year the Government banned commercial fishing in a bid to protect marine life.