Posts Tagged 'Policy'

Removing carbon dioxide through ocean alkalinity enhancement and seaweed cultivation: legal challenges and opportunities

Scientists increasingly agree that carbon dioxide removal will be needed, alongside deep emissions cuts, to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. A wide variety of technologies and strategies have been proposed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. To date, most research has focused on terrestrial-based approaches, but they often have large land requirements, and may present other risks and challenges. As such, there is growing interest in using the oceans, which have already absorbed more than a quarter of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, and could become an even larger carbon sink in the future.

This paper explores two ocean-based carbon dioxide removal strategies—ocean alkalinity enhancement and seaweed cultivation. Ocean alkalinity enhancement involves adding alkalinity to ocean waters, either by discharging alkaline rocks or through an electrochemical process, which increases ocean pH levels and thereby enables greater uptake of carbon dioxide, as well as reducing the adverse impacts of ocean acidification. Seaweed cultivation involves the growing of kelp and other macroalgae to store carbon in biomass, which can then either be used to replace more greenhouse gas-intensive products or sequestered.

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Report on the ocean acidification crisis in Massachusetts

Since the industrial revolution, the world’s oceans have become increasingly acidic. The main drivers of ocean acidification in Massachusetts are (1) global increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide resulting from anthropogenic emissions, and (2) local nutrient pollution leading to the eutrophication of coastal waters.

Many marine species that evolved under less acidic conditions are threatened by ocean acidification, including some that are critical to the Massachusetts economy. Species that are both economically important and vulnerable to acidification include mollusks such as the sea scallop and eastern oyster.

Massachusetts will be disproportionately affected by ocean acidification due to the relative importance of its coastal economies and environments.

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Southern ocean acidification and the Antarctic treaty system

This chapter explores how states party to Antarctic Treaty System instruments have addressed ocean acidification in the Southern Ocean. While there are no obligations explicitly applicable to ocean acidification, states should address the threat as part of their obligations to comprehensively protect Antarctica and its dependent and associated ecosystems, and to apply an ecosystem approach to managing Southern Ocean fisheries. The Chapter provides a critical overview of ATS initiatives to date to develop a strategic policy approach to climate change, noting the significant resistance from states to developing substantive obligations within the ATS in respect of activities taking place outside of the Antarctic Treaty area. It concludes by arguing that Article 2 of the 1991 Environmental Protocol can be interpreted to impose a due diligence obligations on parties to take action to address the causes of ocean acidification in respect of activities outside of the Antarctic Treaty area.

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Ocean and coastal indicators: understanding and coping with climate change at the land-sea interface

The U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) encompasses approximately 3.4 million square nautical miles of ocean and a coastline of over 12,300 miles. Along with the Great Lakes, this vast area generates ~US 370 billion of U.S. gross domestic product, 617 billion in sales and 2.6 million jobs each year. These ocean and coastal ecosystems also provide many important non-market services including subsistence food provisioning, health benefits, shoreline protection, climate regulation, conservation of marine biodiversity, and preservation of cultural heritage. As climatic changes occur, these benefits or ecosystem services may be significantly reduced or in some cases enhanced. These services are also under an array of pressures including over-exploitation of natural resources, pollution, and land use changes that occur simultaneously in synergistic, multiplicative, or antagonistic ways. This results in direct and indirect impacts that are often unpredictable across spatial and temporal scales. Here, we discuss a set of indicators designed in close collaboration with the U.S. National Climate Indicators System. Tracking the impacts via indicators will be essential to ensure long-term health of the marine environment and sustain the benefits to stakeholders who depend on marine ecosystem services.

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Establishing ocean acidification monitoring system for tropical waters of Indonesia facing regional climate variability

Emission of greenhouse gasses, including high CO2 and other materials, initiating global warming and climate change. Atmospheric CO2 that affect the carbonate system of seawater cause ocean acidification. Indonesian sea with a unique geolocation has important role in this emerging phenomenon. Ocean acidification (OA) not only affect marine organism as a direct effect but also economic and ecological for the human being. Considering the high impact of OA and following the global responsibility on Sustainable Development Goals, it is necessary to conduct systematic research and monitoring on OA in Indonesia. In this review, we are informing the urgency of the OA monitoring system and suggest the carbonate system monitoring as well as carbon biogeochemistry studies for OA. We also introduce an initiative of biogeochemical monitoring for OA at Lombok island with the established protocols. Improvement of many aspects including analysis instrumentations, analysis method, sample treatment, and sampling frequency will be a new insight in conducting further research and monitoring of OA.

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Chapter: ecological modeling and conservation on the coasts of Mexico

Mexico harbors several types of coastal ecosystems both in the Atlantic (Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean) and in the Pacific (tropical and subtropical) on which the regional and national socio-economic development depends. They have been studied through several modeling approaches for management, conservation, and necessary ecological studies. In this chapter, we review and synthesize the most recent and relevant studies conducted, with particular emphasis on coral reefs. In the Caribbean, coral reefs are likely the most rapidly changing ecosystems with a net decline in the cover of reef-building corals accompanied by rapid increases of fleshy macroalgae over the last decades. Remaining coral communities are changing toward weedy coral species that are unlikely to support reef growth and thus provide important services to other species and humans. Since 2015 the Mexican Caribbean coast experienced a massive influx of drifting Sargassum spp. that accumulated on the shores, resulting in a build-up of decaying beach-cast material and near-shore murky brown waters (Sargassum-brown-tides), drastically modifying near-shore waters conditions by reducing light, oxygen (hypoxia or anoxia), and pH. The Gulf of Mexico’s coastal ecosystems have also been under significant threats because of human activities, such as gas and oil extraction, pollution, and fishing. Despite numerous studies conducted in the Pacific, biodiversity knowledge is still incomplete, highly biased toward specific habitats, and often narrow in taxonomic and spatial scope. Concurrently, ecological processes that drive biodiversity have been scarcely disentangled. In spite of sub-optimal conditions for coral calcification (lower alkalinity, upwelling, ENSO, high nutrients concentration) some coral reefs thrive in the Pacific. Calcification rate is disrupted with ENSO events (20–50% drop), but it is not correlated to historical changes in sea surface temperature and it might decrease between 15 and 22% due to ocean acidification.

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Benefits and gaps in area-based management tools for the ocean Sustainable Development Goal

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 provides a vision for the world’s oceans; however, the management interventions that are needed to achieve SDG 14 remain less clear. We assessed the potential contributions of seven key area-based management tools (such as fisheries closures) to SDG 14 targets. We conducted a rapid systematic review of 177 studies and an expert opinion survey to identify evidence of the ecological, social and economic outcomes from each type of tool. We used these data to assess the level of confidence in the outcomes delivered by each tool and qualitatively scored how each tool contributes to each target. We demonstrate that a combination of tools with diverse objectives and management approaches will be necessary to achieve all of the SDG 14 targets. We highlight that some tools, including fully and partially protected areas and locally managed marine areas, may make stronger contributions to SDG 14 compared with other tools. We identified gaps in the suitability of these tools to some targets, particularly targets related to pollution and acidification, as well as evidence gaps for social and economic outcomes. Our findings provide operational guidance to support progress toward SDG 14.

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Chapter 2: The impact of climate change on oceans: physical, chemical and biological responses

The rising concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have caused observed physical, chemical and biological changes in the oceans, with further changes projected over coming decades. The impact of climate change on the oceans are profound, with rapid warming in ocean hotspots combined with extreme events such as marine heatwaves changing the distribution and abundance of a wide range of marine species. Further, ocean acidification, sea level rise, and deoxygenation may have important consequences for the marine ecosystems and the ecosystem services derived from the ocean. These observed and future ocean changes are irreversible on the timescale of many centuries. As a result, management of marine resources, for both extractive (for example, fishing) and non-extractive (for example, marine tourism) will need to account for the effects of climate change. For example, changes in abundance of marine species will impact harvesting levels and ecosystem structure, while changes in species’ distribution will challenge place-based management and agreements between nations. Adaptation to some of these changes will be possible; however, without substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions the oceans will change and not provide the same support for human activities as currently enjoyed. The changing nature of the ocean, and the impact it may have on ecosystems and communities, represents a huge challenge to future community interactions at local, national and international scales. It also raises the possibility of active intervention in the climate system to minimize the impacts of climate change which will introduce a complex set of issues to be considered before implementing any intervention.

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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.

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Chapter 5: ocean acidification

Ocean acidification refers to the lowering of ocean pH as a consequence of changes in ocean chemistry arising from increased levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) being drawn down into the oceans from the atmosphere and is a problem concurrent with, rather than a consequence of, climate change. Although we now have a good understanding of the processes of ocean acidification, we know far less about the potential impact of a change in ocean pH on species and ecosystems.

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