Ocean acidification, like global warming, is a serious consequence of rising carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and a growing threat to coastal communities. Scientists and economists alike are calling for ocean acidification mitigation and adaptation plans to be included in any future international climate change agreement, arguing that doing so would make any such agreement stronger and facilitate its implementation. The IAEA uses nuclear techniques to measure ocean acidification and has been providing objective information to scientists, economists, and policymakers to make informed decisions.
“Recognizing that billions of people are dependent on a healthy ocean for their well-being and economic development is the first step,” said Alexandre Magnan of the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations in Paris at an IAEA workshop this year. Acknowledging in the legal text of a climate deal the threats facing the oceans could open the door for coastal communities affected by ocean acidification to benefit from financing available under a climate change agreement, he said. This would enable them to adapt to changing social and economic circumstances, improve understanding of the ecological and biophysical changes expected, and pressure further concrete actions by governments, he added.
There has been a 26 per cent1 increase in ocean acidity since pre-industrial levels as a result of the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and the current rate of ocean acidification is over ten times faster than that of any other period in the last 55 million years2 data show.
The annual Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP), held in Lima, Peru, in December 2014, made significant progress towards a new multilateral agreement, but the challenges facing the oceans and coastal communities dependent on marine ecosystem services remained essentially absent, experts have said.
Recognizing that billions of people are dependent on a healthy ocean for their well-being and economic development is the first step.