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Although UNFCCC COP-19 is driven by climate change and emissions to atmosphere, there is growing realisation of the role of the oceans and the impacts of man’s CO2 upon these systems. Whilst this is not explicitly addressed in the negotiations, the science around ocean acidification is getting more prominence within the UNFCCC arena. On the 18th November there was an event to promote the latest scientific understanding and initiatives to address the challenges associated with ocean acidification, including the need for greater international observation, coordination and action.

A new report ‘Summary for Policymakers on Ocean Acidification’and the results of the recent IPCC findings on ocean acidification were presented at this event. Some key points were that the ocean has absorbed approximately a quarter of all CO2 released into the atmosphere by humans since the start of the industrial revolution, resulting in a 26% increase in the acidity of the ocean. This ocean acidification causes ecosystems and marine biodiversity to change, and will limit the capacity of the ocean to absorb CO2>from human emissions. The economic impacts of ocean acidification could be substantial. Reducing CO2 emissions is the only way to minimise these long term, large scale risks. The Summary for Policymakers on Ocean Acidification was produced by The International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research, and is nicely summarized in the new IEAGHG Information Paper 2013-IP30.  

67 TDcroppedInterestingly, also at this event, the International Maritime Organisation (the secretariat for the London Convention) presented their actions relating to this issue, specifically the amendments to allow and regulate CO2 geological storage offshore and to restrict and regulate ocean geoengineering research (see IEAGHG Information Papers 26 and 27). I am pleased that IEAGHG’s technical work has contributed over the years to these developments in enabling offshore CCS in an environmentally-sound way as one of the mitigation options addressing this important issue.

The event was organized by IOC-UNESCO, IAEA, PML (who are involved in the IEAGHG Environmental Research Network), WMO, IMO, SCOR, IGBP, and was well attended by over a hundred attendees.

See the IEAGHG Information Paper at .