World Ocean Conference

Oceans key in climate change

Scientists and environmentalists gathered at the Global Ocean Policy Day have called on negotiators in the global climate change talks to recognize that oceans can play a crucial role in controlling greenhouse gas emissions.

“The options may include carbon capture and storage, ocean fertilization, curbing air pollution
from ships, ocean-based alternative energy such as wind power, currents, tides and ocean thermal energy conversion,” said GOPD spokeswoman Biliana Cicin-Sain at the conclusion of the GOPD here Wednesday.

It was crucial, she went on, to include oceans in the climate change negotiations, which will culminate in December in Copenhagen under the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC).

“Discussions in the global policy day have underscored that this is a key moment in time when nations around the world are negotiating a new climate regime... The objective is to launch the world on a corrected course toward a low-carbon future, in time to avoid potentially devastating effects,” she said.

In terms of climate change adaptation, Cicin-Sain said, the adoption of strong adaptation measures was essential to ensuring the well-being of some 50 percent of the world’s population living in coastal areas.

“Adaptation needs to happen immediately, including in relation to development that is already underway... The perspectives of countries vulnerable to the impact of climate change such as Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries in Asia must be listened to,” said Cicin-Sain,
co-chair and head of Secretariat Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) vice president for marine portfolio William M. Eichbaum said the oceans had been largely left out of climate change talks.

“What this policy day and this conference are accomplishing is to finally begin the process
of bringing the condition of the oceans forcefully into the debate on climate change and particularly the impact that climate change has on the world’s oceans and on the people dependent on those oceans,” he said.

Wednesday also saw the launching of a scientific literature review of coastal and ocean threats, impacts and solutions signed by 400 scientists from around the world.

Study spokeswoman Margaret R. Caldwell, from Stanford University, said the review on 364 scientific publications had revealed that environmental threats across the Pacific Ocean were felt by poor and rich countries alike.

“The Pacific Ocean faces ecological peril, and countries that are very different in wealth, population, size and culture face similar threats,” she said.

The threats included pollution, habitat destruction and overfishing.

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