Don’t shun the ocean – IUCN tells climate leaders

10 November 2009 | International news release

Failure to recognize the ocean in climate change discussions will have profound consequences for humanity, according to IUCN.

A month before world leaders meet in Copenhagen to strike a climate deal, IUCN releases The Ocean and Climate Change – Tools and Guidelines for Action, to help decision-makers understand the importance of the ocean in the global climate debate – and the cost of not taking action. The report provides a comprehensive view of the mitigation and adaptation strategies available, as well as a clear set of action recommendations.

“Maintaining biodiversity and restoring degraded ecosystems are cost-effective strategies for disaster risk reduction and will help poor communities adapt to climate change while ensuring the continued provision of vital services,” says Dorothée Herr, lead author of the report and IUCN’s Global Marine Program Officer.

The ocean is the earth’s most significant global heat buffer, and absorbs up to one third of the CO2 released by human activities. The ocean covers over seventy percent of our planet’s surface yet much less than one percent of the ocean is effectively protected. Marine ecosystems such as salt marshes, coral reefs and mangroves are among the most vulnerable to climate change, with millions of people relying on them for food, protection, tourism and development.

The report urges global leaders to significantly reduce CO2 emissions and to set reduction targets based on the latest science on ocean acidification and marine ecosystems. The report welcomes the development of sustainable marine renewable energy sources and promotes the use of coastal ecosystems as natural carbon sinks. The report however also carries an important warning to world leaders:

We should explore all possible ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Head of IUCN Global Marine Programme. “But proposed actions such as ocean fertilization to increase carbon capture and storage need to be approached with caution as the possible impacts on the atmosphere and marine biodiversity may be severe and have not been fully evaluated.”

Notes to Editors

To read the full report visit:
http://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/the_ocean_and_climate_change.pdf

Executive Summary:
http://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/the_ocean_and_climate_change_executive_summary.pdf

Downloadable images are available and all credits should go to © Octavio Aburto.

Please note these photos may only be reproduced in connection with a story on this press release:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/43107225@N04/sets/72157622615467799/

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:

• Taffeta Gray, IUCN Marine Communications Officer, t +1 202 330 3615, e taffeta.gray@iucn.org

• Borjana Pervan, IUCN Media Relations, t+ 41 22 9990115, e mailto:borjana.pervan@iucn.org

Spokespeople:

• Tom Laughlin, Deputy Head IUCN Global Marine Programme e tom.Laughlin@iucn.org

• Carl Gustaf Lundin, Head, IUCN Global Marine Programme, e carl.lundin@iucn.org

The two main authors of the report were:

Dorothée Herr, IUCN’s Global Marine Program Officer

Grant Galland, co-author of the report and Ph.D. student with Scripps Institution of Oceanography

About IUCN

IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges.

IUCN works on biodiversity, climate change, energy, human livelihoods and greening the world economy by supporting scientific research, managing field projects all over the world, and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.

www.iucn.org