During the UN climate talks in Cancun negotiators, NGO representatives and other concerned people are coming together to decide and discuss the future of our planet. However, these discussions have so far overlooked one issue closely related to climate change – namely ocean acidification, writes Dorothée Herr, Programme Officer with IUCN's Global Marine Programme.
Ocean acidification is a direct consequence of increased anthropogenic CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. The ocean absorbs nearly 30% of carbon dioxide every year. This helps buffer climate change, but has implications for marine life and humans, for example possible implications for food security and shoreline protection.
At the last climate summit in Copenhagen last year the marine community was well represented. NGOs and academic institutions alike tried to move this ‘other CO2 problem’ towards the forefront of the climate change discussion. This year far less people from the ocean community are at the climate meeting. But because of the concerted efforts of a few, ocean acidification is becoming more prominently part of the climate dialogue. Much more has to be done to get ocean acidification into the official discussion and actions of the UNFCCC, but it is very encouraging to see that there is hardly one day without an event on ocean acidification.
Today is the IUCN side event on ocean acidification. This event aims to build on ongoing efforts to raise awareness and to provide reliable scientific information on ocean acidification. Several countries are actively perusing ocean acidification research and starting to recognize this problem on the national level. With this event I hope we can help move towards an international, comprehensive and action-oriented approach to ocean acidification and start identifying actions and solutions to help address both climate change and ocean acidification.