The economic impacts of ocean acidification on coral reefs

Because ocean acidification has only recently been recognized as a problem caused by CO2 emissions, impact studies are still rare and estimates of the economic impact are absent. This paper estimates the economic impact of ocean acidification on coral reefs which are generally considered to be economically as well as ecologically important ecosystems. First, we conduct an impact assessment in which atmospheric concentration of CO2 is linked to ocean acidity causing coral reef area loss. Next, a meta-analytic value transfer is applied to determine the economic value of coral reefs around the world. Finally, these two analyses are combined to estimate the economic impact of ocean acidification on coral reefs for the four IPCC marker scenarios. We find that the annual economic impact rapidly escalates over time, because the scenarios have rapid economic growth in the relevant countries and coral reefs are a luxury good. Nonetheless, the annual value in 2100 in still only a fraction of total income, one order of magnitude smaller than the previously estimated impact of climate change. Although the estimated impact is uncertain, the estimated confidence interval spans one order of magnitude only. Future research should seek to extend the estimates presented here to other impacts of ocean acidification and investigate the implications of our findings for climate policy.

Brander L. M., Rehdanz K., Tol R. S. J. & van Beukering P. J. H., 2012. The economic impacts of ocean acidification on coral reefs. Climate Change Economics 03: 1250002. doi: 10.1142/S2010007812500029. Article (subscription required).

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