Posts Tagged 'Policy'

Adaptation to climate change–related ocean acidification: an adaptive governance approach


• Ocean acidification presents a serious threat to marine aquaculture and food security.

• Emphasis on locally-led adaptation efforts and local ownership is enhancing adaptive capacity.

• Co-ordination and coherence is needed to support learning-based adaptation across scales.

• Legal adaptive capacity of aquaculture licensing and sector constraints may restrict adaptation.

• Ocean acidification salience is low and limits engaging stakeholders in early adaptation design.


Climate change-driven ocean acidification (OA) is causing rapid change to global ecosystems and poses a significant threat to marine life. However, predicting ecosystem effects remains highly uncertain and governance responses to OA are not yet forthcoming. Adaptive governance can provide a means to deal with this uncertainty and we consider its application to the polycentric governance of adaptation responses to OA in Scotland, focussing on the aquaculture industry as a vulnerable sector. A workshop was used to develop potential responses to OA and to gain information about present and potential capacity for adaptive governance at national and regional levels. Scottish legislation, policy and planning documents were subsequently analysed to enable description of how governance and management arrangements constrain or enable adaptation responses. Legislative and policy analysis indicates convergence across emerging mechanisms in support of adaptive governance and identified interventions. Recent advances in climate change adaptation in Scotland promotes integration of adaptation into wider Scottish Government policy development and functions, based on iterative and collaborative processes across scales. Alongside this, new models of coastal and marine governance, including a partnership-led regional marine planning process and devolution of seabed management rights under Crown Estate Scotland, seek to advance new models of locally-led and learning-based planning and management which can support adaptation responses. However, adaptation measures at operational scale requires flexibility in the aquaculture licensing regime which is currently of low adaptive capacity. Further, expansion of the industry faces social and ecological constraints which limit spatial measures, and are complicated by uncertainty in predicting local OA effects. Expanding the use of holistic and co-operative management tools such as Aquaculture Management Areas could support adaptation across wider spatial scales. Better integration across policy and planning instruments is also needed to enhance adaptive capacity, including between climate change adaptation, marine planning and aquaculture planning and management. This could be enabled by establishing links between existing and proposed collaborative groups to enhance development of adaptation responses and through co-ordination of monitoring and review processes to promote learning across scales.

Continue reading ‘Adaptation to climate change–related ocean acidification: an adaptive governance approach’

Planetary boundary downscaling for absolute environmental sustainability assessment — Case study of Taiwan


• The PB concept has been applied in assessing AES in local level.

• The current national data can be easily connected with PB concept.

• Downscaled PBs by territorial perspective can be the local targets for AES.

• Dynamic concept was introduced for enhancing normalization and weighting.


The planetary boundary (PB) concept can be used as a guide for the absolute environmental sustainability (AES) of humanity. However, the downscaling of PB as a guide remains a challenge at the local scale. This study aims to establish absolute environmentally sustainable indicators (AESIs) and a threshold based on five processes of the Earth system, namely, climate change, ocean acidification, biogeochemical flow (phosphorus and nitrogen cycles), land system change, and freshwater use, for local AES assessment. A case study of Taiwan was conducted. This work also introduced the dynamic concept into developing dynamic normalization factors (DNFs) and dynamic weighting factors (DWFs) for AESIs to support decision-making. DNFs were defined as desired targets in the future; they were developed on the basis of the thresholds of AESIs at the global and national levels in a different timeline. DWFs were defined as weights for assessing the distance of a current situation from the desired targets; they were evaluated on the basis of the distance-to-target approach.

The territorial perspective was adopted as a downscaling method to develop 11 AESIs and thresholds based on the PB framework for the AES assessment of Taiwan. Results showed that the nationally determined contribution target of the carbon pathway is not ambitious compared with the annual and cumulative boundaries of climate change and ocean acidification. Phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizers are two of the three subcategories in biogeochemical flow with very high risks. Phosphorus flow from a freshwater system to the oceans and forest cover was evaluated as moderate risk. Meanwhile, annual freshwater use was determined as low risk. However, when spatial and temporal factors were considered, annual freshwater use was assessed as high risk during the dry season in Southern and Central Taiwan. DNFs and DWFs are more suitable at the local level than at the global level when applying normalization and weighting to reflect a real situation. This study not only provided a new concept for local policy makers to rethink environmental sustainability, but also explored various AES tools at the local scale to connect the local situation with global issues to support decision-making.

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The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea: a governing framework for ocean acidification?

Ocean acidification is a major emergent threat to the ocean, its wildlife and the goods and services they provide. While the international community has committed to ‘minimize and address’ ocean acidification as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, it is unclear how this is to be fulfilled, especially as there are no international agreements explicitly designed to tackle this issue. Ocean acidification is of relevance to the work of several global agreements and makes achieving their goals more difficult. Being largely sectoral, these agreements are restricted in their ability to address ocean acidification holistically, often unable to both minimize and address the issue. This has resulted in a very limited response to ocean acidification that is fragmented across a number of regimes. The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has been identified as an agreement that could be used to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and thus mitigate ocean acidification. However, this article argues that a far more pivotal role can be played by UNCLOS, through its creation of a governing framework for ocean acidification. UNCLOS is the one Convention with a mandate broad enough to address ocean acidification in a direct, holistic manner. UNCLOS places a duty on States to both minimize and address ocean acidification through its various provisions that pertain to the protection and preservation of the marine environment and the conservation of marine living resources. The Convention establishes the framework through which ocean governance is to be implemented, which should be understood as extending to ocean acidification. Thus, UNCLOS is uniquely placed to guide a coherent international response.

Continue reading ‘The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea: a governing framework for ocean acidification?’

Framing ocean acidification to mobilise action under multilateral environmental agreements


• 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.


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.

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


• 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.


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


• 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.


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.

Continue reading ‘Connecting science to policymakers, managers, and citizens’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book