Authors: Herr,D.; Galland,G.
Produced by: International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (World Conservation Union) (2009)
The ocean plays a critical role in the climate system and is significantly affected by climate change and ocean acidification. Key alterations are occurring to the environment with adverse effects like rising sea levels, increased intensity of storms, changes in ocean resource availability and altered freshwater supply and quality. The changes are occurring at an alarming rate and are affecting food security, human health, livelihoods and global economies. Tainting food and water supplies through unsustainable development increases the likelihood of disease epidemics threatening the well being of rural and urban populations. Climate change induced migration, which is indirectly caused by ocean change, is likely to put people at risk of ethnic and political persecution over resources. This report sets out to engage, inform and guide decision makers on the development and implementation of marine and coastal climate change strategies and programmes.
The report points out that despite the importance of regulating climate change, not enough attention is paid to climate research, policy and implementation plans. The document is aimed at raising awareness and giving science-based action recommendations pertaining to national and international climate change processes. It provides an overview of the interactions between the ocean and climate and describes the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems and the benefits humanity accrues from them.
The report gives the following recommendations for marine-related mitigation and adaptation policy and implementation actions:
- the ocean must be be clearly and prominently included in future international climate change discussions
- there is need to reduce stressors like habitat destruction, pollution, fishing and unsustainable development all which impinge on systems like seagrass beds, mangrove forests and salt marshes, which play a role as natural carbon sinks
- coastal and marine sources of renewable energy like wind, wave and tidal power should be harnessed as an alternative to fossil fuel-based power
- new technologies and large-scale geo-engineering should only be undertaken after sufficient scientific, environmental and socioeconomic due diligence
- the 3.4% global emissions from the international shipping industry must be included in future emission reduction targets
- protection of entire ecosystems will ensure that coastal and marine systems continue to act naturally, providing services like carbon storage, food and clean water.