Chapter 18: Responding to ocean acidification beyond climate governance

Ocean acidification (OA) has significant impacts on marine species and ecosystems. Responses to acidification to date have been piecemeal and uncoordinated, but there is a growing focus on possible strategies to ameliorate the environmental, social and economic impacts of ocean acidification. Rather than asking how the ‘issue’ of acidification should be governed, this chapter argues that a ‘solutions-based’ approach that focuses on response strategies to ocean acidification provides an important foundation for governance of the problem. These include reducing non-climate sources of OA, improving ecosystem resilience by reducing other stressors, alteration of ocean chemistry, and options for assisting dependent communities, sectors and industries to adapt to inevitable changes. The diversity of response options and relevant regulatory arrangements requires that governance be similarly diverse across sectors, scale, participants and mechanisms. Both international and domestic environmental laws will have a role to play in managing response strategies. This approach does not require regimes to be tightly integrated or interdependent. Instead, progress can be made in some areas more easily than others, and this ‘mosaic’ or ‘patchwork’ approach enables action to be undertaken wherever possible. A solutions-oriented approach will also have the advantage of moving on more established legal realms, potentially depoliticizing responses to what could be seen as a ‘climate change’ problem.

Makomere R. & McDonald J., 2020. Chapter 18: Responding to ocean acidification beyond climate governance. In: McDonald J., McGee J. & Barnes R. (Eds.), Research Handbook on Climate Change, Oceans and Coasts, pp. 330–347. Edward Elgar Publishing. Chapter (restricted access).

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