(Re)framing ocean acidification in the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change (UNFCCC) and Paris Agreement

Ocean acidification is most frequently framed by the scientific community as a concurrent threat to climate change, rather than an effect of it. This separation of the two phenomena has long been deemed as a way of garnering heightened policy attention for ocean acidification rather than having it bound up in the often contested politics of climate change. This effort, however, appears to have resulted in the inadvertent placing of ocean acidification outside of the mandate of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This has created a significant gap in the global governance of this issue with no multilateral agreement understood as having jurisdiction over the mitigation of rising ocean acidity. For these reasons this paper argues that an alternative framing of ocean acidification as an effect of climate change is warranted. This would include ocean acidification in the core obligations of the Convention, thereby filling the mitigation governance gap and avoiding perverse implementation outcomes. It is contended that interpreting the UNFCCC in this way is more consistent with its objective and purpose than the existing interpretations that place ocean acidification beyond the remit of the Convention.

Harrould-Kolieb E. R., in press. (Re)framing ocean acidification in the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change (UNFCCC) and Paris Agreement. Climate Policy. Article (subscription required).

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