Posts Tagged 'Policy'

Framing ocean acidification to mobilise action under multilateral environmental agreements

Highlights

• Ocean acidification is commonly framed as a problem of carbon dioxide emissions concurrent to climate change.

• This framing has been effective at mobilising action at the domestic level in the United States.

• This framing has resulted in misaligning the problem of ocean acidification with regime mandates at the international level.

• To mobilise action at the international level a reframing of ocean acidification is warranted.

Abstract

Ocean acidification has long been framed by its epistemic community as a problem of carbon dioxide emissions that is concurrent to climate change. Framing ocean acidification in this way has been effective at garnering policy action at the domestic level in the United States. It is argued, however, in this paper that this framing has been counterproductive at the international level, resulting in two main impediments to the international governance of this issue. Firstly, defining ocean acidification as a concurrent problem to climate change, rather than as an impact of it, has resulted in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change being interpreted as containing no obligation to address ocean acidification. Secondly, focussing almost solely on the reduction of global emissions of carbon dioxide as the only global solution to ocean acidification has resulted in ocean and biodiversity-related regimes that do not have the mandate to regulate CO2 emissions as being viewed as without the recourse to respond. Through an examination of the causes and consequences of ocean acidification and the general objectives of existing multilateral environmental agreements, a set of alternative problem frames are developed in this paper that could be deployed to mobilize action under existing environmental regimes.

Continue reading ‘Framing ocean acidification to mobilise action under multilateral environmental agreements’

Legal practices and challenges in addressing climate change and its impact on the oceans—a Chinese perspective

Highlights

• International legal and policy instruments contain certain measures to tackle the effects of climate change on the oceans.

• China has also committed to addressing the effects of climate change on the oceans.

• The overlapping of different systems has, however, created some difficulties in practice and further coordination is urgently required.

• The ultimate solution in avoiding the worsening effects of climate change on the oceans would be to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases worldwide and China wishes to take a leading role in such efforts.

Abstract

Two key drivers, ocean warming and ocean acidification, affect the oceans and adds to the climate change adversely. International legal and policy instruments contain certain measures to tackle these growing effects. China is also committed to addressing the effects of climate change on the oceans. The overlapping of different systems has, however, created some difficulties in practice and further coordination is urgently required. This paper uses qualitative methods to investigate China’s legal practices in addressing the effects of climate change and their impact on the oceans. The study considers newly introduced policies and recent actions launched by the Chinese Government to chart a clearer picture of the current practices. To this end, it is concluded that the ultimate solution in avoiding the worsening effects of climate change on the oceans would be to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases worldwide, and China aims to take advantage of playing leading role in such efforts.

Continue reading ‘Legal practices and challenges in addressing climate change and its impact on the oceans—a Chinese perspective’

Overlooked ocean strategies to address climate change

Highlights

• Paris Agreement Parties have largely overlooked the ocean-climate relationship.

• Ocean impacts, mitigation, adaptation must be included in climate mitigation.

• Four ocean-climate linkages suggest specific responses by Parties.

• These linkages inform a systematic approach to ocean issues under the Agreement.

Abstract

The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC’s) Paris Agreement—which aims to limit climate change and increase global resilience to its effects—was a breakthrough in climate diplomacy, committing its Parties to develop and update national climate plans. Yet the Parties to the Agreement have largely overlooked the effect of climate change on ocean-based communities, economies, and ecosystems—as well as the role that the ocean can play in mitigating and adapting to climate change. Because the ocean is an integral part of the climate system, stronger inclusion of ocean issues is critical to achieving the Agreement’s goals. Here we discuss four ocean-climate linkages that suggest specific responses by Parties to the Agreement connected to 1) accelerating climate ambition, including via sustainable ocean-based mitigation strategies; 2) focusing on CO2 emissions to address ocean acidification; 3) better understanding ocean-based mitigation; and 4) pursuing ocean-based adaptation. These linkages offer a more complete perspective on the reasons strong climate action is necessary and inform a systematic approach for addressing ocean issues under the Agreement to strengthen climate mitigation and adaptation.

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Connecting science to policymakers, managers, and citizens

Twenty years ago, the creation of a new scientific program, the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO), funded by the Packard Foundation, provided the opportunity to integrate—from the outset—research, monitoring, and outreach to the public, policymakers, and managers. PISCO’s outreach efforts were initially focused primarily on sharing scientific findings with lay audiences, but over time they evolved to a more interactive, multi-directional mode of engagement. Over the next two decades, PISCO science and scientists significantly influenced local, state, federal, and international decisions about many topics, but especially marine protected areas, hypoxia, ocean acidification, fishery management, and marine diseases. PISCO scientists’ long-term data and understanding of key ecosystem processes also enabled them to detect anomalies, investigate rapidly, and inform others about novel developments such as hypoxia, acidification, warming, and disease. Especially during a time of dynamic changes in ecosystems, long-term data like PISCO’s have proven invaluable. Moreover, PISCO’s dual focus on understanding fundamental processes and finding solutions (not just identifying problems) has resulted in rich opportunities to co-create knowledge with citizens and translate that knowledge into action by citizens, managers, and policymakers. PISCO has delivered on its goal to serve society through science.

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The dynamics and impact of ocean acidification and hypoxia: insights from sustained investigations in the Northern California Current Large Marine Ecosystem

Coastal upwelling ecosystems around the world are defined by wind-generated currents that bring deep, nutrient-rich waters to the surface ocean where they fuel exceptionally productive food webs. These ecosystems are also now understood to share a common vulnerability to ocean acidification and hypoxia (OAH). In the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME), reports of marine life die-offs by fishers and resource managers triggered research that led to an understanding of the risks posed by hypoxia. Similarly, unprecedented losses from shellfish hatcheries led to novel insights into the coastal expression of ocean acidification. Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO) scientists and other researchers in the CCLME responded to the rise of OAH with new ocean observations and experiments. This work revealed insights into the expression of OAH as coupled environmental stressors, their temporal and spatial variability, and impacts on species, ecological communities, and fisheries. Sustained investigations also deepened the understanding of connections between climate change and the intensification of hypoxia, and are beginning to inform the ecological and eco-evolutionary processes that can structure responses to the progression of ocean acidification and other pathways of global change. Moreover, because the severity of the die-offs and hatchery failures and the subsequent scientific understanding combined to galvanize public attention, these scientific advances have fostered policy advances. Across the CCLME, policymakers are now translating the evolving scientific understanding of OAH into new management actions.

Continue reading ‘The dynamics and impact of ocean acidification and hypoxia: insights from sustained investigations in the Northern California Current Large Marine Ecosystem’

(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.

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

Ocean acidification refugia in variable environments

Climate change refugia in the terrestrial biosphere are areas where species are protected from global environmental change and arise from natural heterogeneity in landscapes and climate. Within the marine realm, ocean acidification, or the global decline in seawater pH, remains a pervasive threat to organisms and ecosystems. Natural variability in seawater carbon dioxide (CO2) chemistry, however, presents an opportunity to identify ocean acidification refugia (OAR) for marine species. Here, we review the literature to examine the impacts of variable CO2 chemistry on biological responses to ocean acidification and develop a framework of definitions and criteria that connects current OAR research to management goals. Under the concept of managing vulnerability, the most likely mechanisms by which OAR can mitigate ocean acidification impacts are by reducing exposure to harmful conditions or enhancing adaptive capacity. While local management options, such as OAR, show some promise, they present unique challenges, and reducing global anthropogenic CO2 emissions must remain a priority.

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