Posts Tagged 'Policy'

Coral reefs of the Red Sea — challenges and potential solutions

The Red Sea is a unique body of water, hosting some of the most productive and diverse coral reefs. Human populations along coasts of the Red Sea were initially sparse due to the hot and arid climate surrounding it, but this is changing with improved desalination techniques, accessible energy, and increased economic interest in coastal areas. In addition to increasing pressure on reefs from coastal development, global drivers, primarily ocean acidification and seawater warming, are threatening coral reefs of the region. While reefs in southern sections of the Red Sea live near or above their maximum temperature tolerance and have experienced bleaching events in the recent past, coral reefs in northern sections are considered a coral reef refugia from global warming and acidification, at least for the coming decades. Such differential sensitivities along the latitudinal gradient of the Red Sea require differential solutions and management. In an effort to identify the appropriate solutions to conserve and maintain resilience of these reefs along a latitudinal gradient, we used a SWOT analysis (strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats) to frame the present situation and to propose policy solutions as useful planning procedures. We highlight the need for immediate action to secure the northern sections of the Red Sea as a coral reef climate change refuge by management and removal of local stressors. There is a need to strengthen the scientific knowledge base for proper management and to encourage regional collaboration on environmental issues. Based on scientific data, solutions such as marine protected areas, fishing regulation, and reef restoration approaches were ranked for five distinct latitudinal sections in the Red Sea and levels of interventions are recommended.

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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’

Conceptual advances on global scale assessments of vulnerability: Informing investments for coastal populations at risk of climate change

Since the 1990s, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has used global assessments of vulnerability to inform investment and action against the effects of climate change. Beyond the IPCC, others have undertaken global assessments to understand the vulnerability of coastal areas to climate change. Eight global vulnerability assessments are compared to understand similarities and differences in their results and the metrics used to construct a vulnerability index. Variations in objectives, conceptualizations of vulnerability, operationalization of the concepts, scope and depth of data drawn upon lead to contradictory rankings of priority areas for climate action between assessments. The increased complexity and scope of indicators make it difficult to untangle the root causes of such differences in rankings. It is also difficult to identify the degree to which climate change influences vulnerability rankings compared to other factors such as local environmental conditions and the capacity of populations to deal with environmental change. The way to undertake global assessments needs to be reshaped to better inform planning of international development along different objectives. Global level assessments need to be simplified and harmonized to better isolate the impact of climate change specific drivers. Decision-makers would make better use of such global assessments as scoping studies rather than expect comprehensive and robust priorities for investment. Such scoping studies can help target locations where supplementary, in-depth local analyses need to be conducted. At the local level, the possibility to collect context-specific information, particularly on adaptive capacity, allows the robust assessment of vulnerability.

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Societal causes of, and responses to, ocean acidification

Major climate and ecological changes affect the world’s oceans leading to a number of responses including increasing water temperatures, changing weather patterns, shrinking ice-sheets, temperature-driven shifts in marine species ranges, biodiversity loss and bleaching of coral reefs. In addition, ocean pH is falling, a process known as ocean acidification (OA). The root cause of OA lies in human policies and behaviours driving society’s dependence on fossil fuels, resulting in elevated CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. In this review, we detail the state of knowledge of the causes of, and potential responses to, OA with particular focus on Swedish coastal seas. We also discuss present knowledge gaps and implementation needs.

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Climate change, ocean acidification and the marine environment: challenges for the international legal regime

The protection and conservation of the ocean warrant increased attention from the global community. Several disturbing issues pose a threat to  the marine environment and its well-being (Von Heland & Olsson, 2014, pp. 4470-4496), among them are marine environmental pollution and the degradation of marine biodiversity – two well-known challenges that must be overcome. Combined, they are striking challenges to the marine environment. Moreover, most troubling is that they are caused by an overwhelming level of human activities (Von Heland, Clifton &Olsson, 2014), which are sometimes transboundary, and whose consequences will become more severe and complicated if not properly curbed. hus, it is common knowledge that these activities require comprehensive policies, laws and principles to manage them effectively. Linked to these solutions is the need for responsibilities, cooperation and commitments at local, national, regional and international levels. Altogether, the actions required for the protection of the ocean from human activities in responsible ways has become a necessity rather than an option. However, despite the challenges becoming more acute, and the use of the ocean less sustainable and more harmful, a durable solution to reverse these impacts is unlikely. Considering these issues, this chapter lays the foundation for subsequent chapters by describing why and how ocean-related issues should be addressed responsibly, immediately and systematically, and how and why ocean pollution and threats to marine biodiversity are challenges to overcome. The exploration in this chapter guides the discussion in the subsequent chapters, which critically examine the current legal and institutional frameworks governing different issues of marine environmental protection and conservation.

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Acidification in Nordic waters: status, trends and implications for marine species

Recent studies on marine life show that the anthropogenic increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration can have negative impacts on growth and survival of groups of marine life such as corals and other calcifying organisms.

Increased CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, and hence in the oceans, lead to decreasing pH or increasing acidification, a process known as ocean acidification (OA). During the last century, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has risen from around 280 ppm to 400 ppm; this has led to a pH decrease in the oceans of 0.1. OA currently takes place at a rate corresponding to approximately -0.02 pH unit per decade and an increase in CO2 at around 2 ppm per year. The projections for atmospheric CO2 concentration is an increase to around 1000 ppm at the end of the century, which will lower pH in the oceans by 0.3-0.4. Although this may appear relatively small, a decrease in pH of 0.1 corresponds to an increase in acidity (“free” protons) of 25%, and 0.3-0.4 corresponds to an increase of 200-250%.

Coastal systems experience changes in pH over time exceeding those of the ocean by several orders of magnitude,
but the field is poorly studied, and the spatial variation is large. The Baltic Sea is no exception to this. pH changes in the Baltic Sea are tightly coupled to nutrient input, alkalinity (AT) of freshwater sources in addition to increased CO2 levels and warming. Acidification trends vary substantially among coastal systems and time of year, but have been reported up to 10 times faster than OA.

The TRIACID project has mapped acidification trends in the Baltic Sea during the past 40 years, in different regions, and identified areas with a general lack of data. The project has described spatial variation and trends in pH status, and the main drivers of changing pH have been identified. Given the spatial variation, the data gaps, and all the different drivers a detailed projection of the development is complicated but since we expect increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, rising temperatures and decreasing nutrient input, the acidification trend will continue or accelerate in most of the region.

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Learning to play well with others: a proposed international solution to mitigate ocean acidification

While ocean acidification is a major crisis affecting the shellfish industry and local economies in the United States, it is an international issue and should be handled as such. Countries throughout the world are attempting to face the impacts of ocean acidification independently. For example, rising acidity levels are causing the exterior of shellfish to deteriorate in the Pacific Northwest and coral composition to weaken in Australia. Although the cause of these various, widespread issues is the ocean’s altering composition, the methods to mitigate the negative results are not treated in a comprehensive manner. Rather, these international ocean acidification implications are approached from an individualistic perspective.

This article will be broken up into four sections. First, this article will explain the background issue of ocean acidification and its potential negative environmental, economic, and social impacts. Second, current legislative and judicial developments in the United States addressing ocean acidification will be discussed. Third, an international section will address solutions employed in other countries facing effects from ocean acidification, as well as potential international solutions attempted or proposed. Finally, this article will conclude with suggestions for future change and potential solutions to face this international crisis, including legislative and scientific reform to mitigate or adapt to impacts of ocean acidification.

Ultimately, this article argues that a comprehensive international approach to ocean acidification is not only encouraged, but necessary, as this is an inherently international environmental crisis. As a specific proposal, this article posits the formation of an international panel of five countries, potentially including those with booming economies, high rates of pollution, dependence on aquaculture, and environmentalist tendencies. This proposal will be further discussed at the conclusion of this article

 

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OA-ICC HIGHLIGHTS

Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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