Intertwined ocean and climate: implications for international climate negotiations

The atmosphere and ocean are two components of the Earth system that are essential for life, yet humankind is altering both. Contemporary climate change is now a well-identified problem: anthropogenic causes, disturbance in extreme events patterns, gradual environmental changes, widespread impacts on life and natural resources, and multiple threats to human societies all around the world. But part ofthe problem remains largely unknown outside the scientific community: significant changes are also occurring in the ocean, threatening life and its sustainability on Earth. This Policy Brief explains the significance of these changes in the ocean. It is based on a scientific paper recently published in Science(Gattuso et al., 2015), which synthesizes recent and future changes to the ocean and its ecosystems, as well as to the goods and services they provide to humans. Two contrasting CO2 emission scenarios are considered: the high emissions scenario (also known as “business-as-usual” and as the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5, RCP8.5) and a stringent emissions scenario (RCP2.6) consistent with the Copenhagen Accord1 of keeping mean global temperature increase below 2°C in 2100.

Magnan A. K., Billé R., Cooley S. R., Kelly R., Pörtner H.-O., Turley C. & Gattuso J.-P., 2015. Intertwined ocean and climate: implications for international climate negotiations. IDDRI Policy Brief 4:1-4. Article.

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