International alliance to combat ocean acidification announces government commitments at global climate action summit

SAN FRANCISCO, USA — As part of the Global Climate Action Summit, the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification (OA Alliance) has announced new country, state and city members, including the Netherlands, Hawaii, Virginia, and Seattle who are committing to take action to protect oceans from the impacts of rising carbon emissions.

The OA Alliance, founded by the West Coast states of California, Washington, Oregon and the Canadian Province of British Columbia and Ocean Conservancy, welcomed these new members to a rapidly growing worldwide coalition of governments and supporting affiliate members from the scientific, industry, NGO, and academic sectors committed to creating regional ocean acidification action plans and sharing climate action best practices with each other.

At the Climate Summit event, OA Alliance government members who are working to support coastal communities impacted by ocean acidification also announced commitments they are taking to address changing ocean conditions including conducting regional OA vulnerability assessments, piloting the carbon sequestration potential of seagrass, kelp or mangroves, or working with resources managers to better incorporate ocean acidification impacts into existing adaptation plans. Governments shared policy solutions they have developed within their regions and across climate agreement frameworks through “Ocean Acidification (OA) Action Plans.”

The California Ocean Protection Council, in cooperation with the California Ocean Science Trust, showcased their efforts to develop the State of California’s OA Action Plan – a policy and management action plan that will be the first of its kind in California and developed within the OA Alliance framework.

“Our oceans sustain jobs, support coastal economies and feed billions of people. To protect our oceans, our economies, and our communities, we must all act fast to reduce carbon pollution,” said Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State, a founding member of the OA Alliance. “Washington has already experienced the effects of ocean acidification on shellfish aquaculture and of ocean warming on fishing. Through the OA Alliance, we are leading together to address the scourge of ocean acidification and defend ourselves from these impacts.”

Ocean acidity has increased by 30 percent and is expected to double over pre-industrial levels by the end of this century, as the ocean absorbs one-third of the carbon dioxide generated by human activities. Extensive field studies conducted worldwide already show significant impacts on fisheries and marine ecosystems from ocean acidification, which will worsen in the future. To avert a larger crisis, the science is clear that we must act immediately to reduce carbon emissions. In 2015, 195 countries signed the historic Climate Agreement in Paris committing to meaningful action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“California considers climate change to be a threat not only to our coasts, but to the world. The impacts of ocean acidification threaten our fisheries and ecosystems along the West Coast. Inaction is no longer an option, which is why we are committed to a zero-carbon emissions economy that will stem the tide of alarming climate-related changes in our oceans and to creating an Ocean Acidification action plan which will help the state adapt and build resiliency against existing threats,” said John Laird, California Secretary of Natural Resources.

“The oceans are under immense pressure. Plastic waste is a very visible one, one the Netherlands is actively addressing. We are, for instance, supporting the initiative of the young Dutchman Boyan Slat with his Ocean Cleanup initiative. Their first installation to collect waste was towed to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch last Saturday right here from San Francisco. Ocean acidification on the other hand is not as visible, but at least as damaging,” said Netherlands minister of the environment, Stientje van Veldhoven. “It threatens the very survival of the oceans we know. We can only hope to address acidification if we all join hands. This is why I am happy that the Netherlands joins the Ocean Acidification Alliance today.”

The OA Alliance is taking actions to protect the health of the oceans and address the impacts of ocean acidification on our economies and coastal communities by:

• Supporting governments to take meaningful actions to address changing ocean conditions;

• Advocating for inclusion of strong ocean protection provisions in international climate agreements and other relevant frameworks; and

• Creating a coalition of governments and partners to elevate the visibility and importance of ocean acidification in public discourse and policy development.

“Government-led initiatives like the OA Alliance are vital to the push to attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The health of the Ocean is crucial to a sustainable future for humanity and the well-being of life on this planet,” said UN’s special envoy for the ocean, Peter Thomson.

“Understanding how our ocean is affected by climate change is critical to solving this global challenge. That’s why Ocean Conservancy and other members of the OA Alliance are working to bring the climate and ocean worlds together,” said Janis Searles Jones, CEO of Ocean Conservancy. We’re already seeing progress – this week at GCAS, the agenda features the ocean as a headlining climate issue. The ocean is critical to solving the climate crisis, and solving the climate crisis is critical to maintaining a healthy ocean. Ocean Conservancy is proud to shine a light on the importance of the ocean in this discussion.”

Caribbean News Now, 16 September 2018. Article.

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