Cutting emissions best way to save diverse ocean life from extinction, experts stress at Lisbon dialogue amid calls for solutions reflecting gravity of threat

The most important action countries can take to safeguard the diverse ecosystems, marine life and vital services offered by the world’s oceans is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide, speakers stressed today in an interactive dialogue held alongside the 2022 Ocean Conference, as experts described the extreme consequences of continued inaction.

“If we do not respond to this, all of these meetings will condemn us to the trash heap of history,” said John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate of the United States, who co-chaired the dialogue with Matthew Samuda, Minister without Portfolio in Jamaica’s Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.  Shipping is one sector in need of reform.  “If shipping were a country, it would be the eighth largest emitter in the world,” he noted, pressing the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to adopt a revised strategy that includes a goal of zero emissions for the industry.

The risks are way too great to be brushed aside, added Mr. Samuda.  Small island developing States are economically, culturally and socially connected to the ocean and even minor changes to its chemistry will have significant ripple effects on a host of species, including those small island countries commercially harness.

The remarks set the stage for a solutions-oriented dialogue on “Minimizing and addressing ocean acidification, deoxygenation and ocean warming”, moderated by Stephen Widdicombe, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Science at Plymouth Marine Laboratory and Co-Chair of the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network Executive Council, who stressed that 3 billion people depend on the ocean for their livelihoods.

Launching the presentations, Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director-General, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that for more than 60 years, IAEA labs in Monaco have studied ocean acidification to help countries track pollutants such as microplastics.  Noting that nuclear and isotopic techniques can be used to study marine organisms, he said IAEA scientists are measuring differences in the growth of organisms — coral and shellfish, for example — to understand how to protect ecosystems and the communities that rely on them.

United Nations, 29 July 2022. Full article.

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