Posted by: Hendra Siry | 16 December, 2009

Ocean issues dropped from negotiating climate text

Article by: Adianto P. Simamora and Stevie Emilia ,  The Jakarta Post ,  Copenhagen   |  Wed, 12/16/2009 9:14 AM  |  World

The last warning: View into one of the halls of the Bella Center in Copenhagen where the UN Climate Summit is underway Tuesday. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says rich and poor countries must “stop pointing fingers” and raise their climate targets to salvage faltering talks on a global warming pact.  AP/Heribert Proepper

The last warning: View into one of the halls of the Bella Center in Copenhagen where the UN Climate Summit is underway Tuesday. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says rich and poor countries must “stop pointing fingers” and raise their climate targets to salvage faltering talks on a global warming pact. AP/Heribert Proepper

Indonesia has to work hard to re-raise the issue surrounding the ocean’s role in climate change after the ongoing Copenhagen climate talks decided to drop it from the negotiating draft text on emissions cuts.

To make it worse, Indonesia will likely struggle alone to lobby parties into putting the ocean issue back on the draft text before being adopted as a conference decision. Most negotiators preferred to focus on emissions cuts targets and financing affairs.

“Indonesia will continue fighting to mainstream ocean issues in the climate talks to once again include them in the negotiating text,” negotiator Hendra Yusran Siry told journalists on the sidelines of the conference.

He said Indonesia expected the conference to recognize that marine ecosystems were also vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

Draft text only says developing countries with fragile mountainous regions are vulnerable to severe impacts of climate change.

The draft text of the long commitment agreements (LCA), as an umbrella for ocean issues, would be submitted to the ministerial meeting on Wednesday.

Before the Copenhagen talks, ocean and marine issues had been found in at least 18 paragraphs of the 161-page draft text. But after the president of the conference tabled the seven-page draft text last week, all paragraphs related to ocean and marine issues were omitted.

Ocean and marine-related issues are now mentioned only in draft texts on adaptation, technology transfer and capacity building under the convention.

Hendra said the ocean faced the serious twin impacts of greenhouse gas emissions and acidification, which would bleach coral reefs.

Indonesia — which hosted the initial World Ocean Conference and the Coral Triangle Initiative in Manado, North Sulawesi, last May — has called for prioritizing ocean issues in negotiations at the Copenhagen talks. The country has set up a road map to table the Manado Ocean Declaration (MOD) in climate talks, from Bonn climate meeting to last month’s Barcelona conference.

The MOD requires adaptation funds and technology transfers to help ocean countries — including Indonesia — deal with climate change.

Oceans cover three quarters of the Earth surface and provide 50 percent of the world’s oxygen. A study has found that ocean acidification levels could increase by 100 times by 2050, which will lead to massive coral bleaching, destroying thousands of reefs, feeding grounds for most of the world’s fish species.

The study, made by the United Nation Environmental Program (UNEP) and World Conservation Monitoring Center, said that by 2100, about 70 percent of cold water corals would be exposed to corrosive waters.

It says seas and oceans absorbed about one quarter of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted to the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuel, deforestation and human activities.

As more CO2 has been emitted into the atmosphere, the ocean has absorbed greater amounts at increasingly rapid rates.

However, the absorption of atmospheric CO2 had resulted in changes to chemical balance of oceans, causing them to become more acidic.

“Ocean acidification is irreversible on time scales of at least tens of thousands of years, and substantial damage to ocean ecosystems can only be avoided by urgent and rapid reductions in global emissions of CO2. Attention must be given to integration of this critical issue at global climate change debate in Copenhagen,” said Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention Biodiversity (CBD).


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