Fishes and corals matter too – focus on efforts to address ocean acidification

Many people know that the ocean covers 70% of the planet; fewer people know however that approximately 25% of all the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities is absorbed each year by the ocean. While this reduces the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, thereby reducing the impacts of climate change, it comes at a cost for marine ecosystems and the communities that depend on them.

A few years ago, ocean acidification was the invisible sibling to climate change. The launch of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, however, brought this critically important topic to the attention of policy makers worldwide.

The message is now clear and scientifically underpinned: ocean acidification is happening, it is happening at an unprecedented rate, and communities — local and commercial alike — are affected. I was therefore surprised to see that a recently released IPCC video promoting its synthesis report does not mention ocean acidification at all.

Good news however from within the work of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s  scientific and technological advisory body (SBSTA) whichemphasises the need for observation of ocean systems and ocean acidification in particular, as part of international global climate observation efforts.

This will be relevant to assess the implications it might have for international pre- and post-2020 mitigation and adaptation efforts. The Oceans 2015 Initiative, in which IUCN is participating, aims to translate the global greenhouse gas emissions trajectory as part of the countries’ INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) into an impact scenario for oceans and coasts.

Several events on the side of the official negotiations are also focusing on the impacts and solutions to ocean acidification – attended in higher numbers than I have witnessed in the past.

Dorothée Herr, IUCN Blog, 7 december 2014. Article.

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