Delegates at the UN Climate Summit were today shown that the world’s oceans are becoming acidic at a faster rate than at any time in the last 55 million years, threatening disaster for marine life.

Delegates at the UN Climate Summit were today shown that the world’s oceans are becoming acidic at a faster rate than at any time in the last 55 million years, threatening disaster for marine life.

The study has been put together by leading marine scientists at the European Project for Ocean Acidification (EPOCA) as a “wake up call about the double impact on our seas of climate change and ocean acidification caused by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels”. It is aimed at business leaders, policy advisers and decision makers to try and get them to act “quickly and decisively”. EPOCA is a consortium of research institutes and environment agencies.

Below are some of the ways in which the study describes the effect of ocean acidification.

• Numerous animals and plants in the sea have calcium carbonate skeletons or shells. Some are especially sensitive to small changes in acidity and there is some evidence they are already being affected. Many of these sensitive species are directly or indirectly of great cultural, economic, or biological importance as primary producers, reef builders,etc.

• Valuable ecosystems will be damaged and if CO2 levels continue to rise as predicted, conditions for warm water corals will be marginal by 2050 and by 2100 70% of cold water corals may be exposed to corrosive waters.

The report makes very clear that “aggressive and immediate” cuts in CO2 emissions are necessary to slow down ocean acidification and climate change.

Seas At Risk started its “Climate and the Oceans” work in 2008, and is focusing on the mitigation potential of the two main maritime activities: shipping and fishing.

It’s hoped that negotiations in Copenhagen will end years of inaction on shipping GHG emissions caused when this sector (along with aviation) was left out of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. Seas At Risk is pushing negotiators to agree to clear targets and timelines for work on this issue at the International Maritime Organisation with revenues from market-based instruments being used for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. Follow developments via our “Bunkers in Copenhagen” blog, the link can be found below.

As for fisheries, Seas At Risk is currently preparing a report on the different environmental impacts, including GHG emissions, from different gears and policy hurdles that prevent fishermen from shifting to more sustainable fishing techniques. The reform of the Common Fisheries Policy will provide a once-in-a-decade opportunity to promote a transition to such practices.

 

EPOCA Study "Ocean Acidification:The facts"

 

Bunkers in Copenhagen blog

Share This

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required