Oceana highlights critical need for an ambitious and binding agreement in the upcoming climate change conference

Strong commitments from the International Community are essential to curb CO2 and reverse ocean acidification.

Press Release Date: November 29, 2010

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

The EU must strengthen its objective to reduce CO2 emissions, reaching a minimum of 30% for 2020.

Oceana, the international marine conservation organization, calls attention to the need to reach a comprehensive, legally binding agreement on the CO2 emission reduction regime during the upcoming Conference on Climate Change (COP16) to be held in Cancun between November 29th and December 10th. Acidification and global warming, caused by increasing levels of CO2, is wreaking havoc on the oceans, destroying corals and impeding many marine organisms from building shells and skeletons. Only strong commitments from the international community can reverse this damaging trend.

CO2 is a potent and persistent greenhouse gas that has been emitted into the atmosphere at an alarming rate for the last 50 years. Currently, global CO2 emissions into the atmosphere have reached 390 ppm (parts per million). The 350 ppm limit, to which concentrations of this gas must be reduced and stabilised, has been significantly exceeded. This limit is important in order to prevent an increase in the Earth’s temperature and the devastating effects this has on the planet’s climate system and biodiversity.

“The political agreement reached during the last conference in Copenhagen has not achieved the main objective of establishing ambitious and binding reductions in emissions”, explains Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana Europe, “so the governments present at the upcoming COP in Cancun must achieve a serious agreement that limits and reduces CO2 emissions”.

The commitments to reduce emissions on a global scale must be much more ambitious and in line with scientific advice. As such, the EU must strengthen its reduction objections, for a minimum reduction of 30% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. In addition, the longer it takes to reach an agreement, the more difficult it will be to find solutions and the commitments that each country must assume will be increasingly severe.

Furthermore, Oceana calls attention to the fact that since the industrial revolution, the oceans have absorbed 30% of CO2 emissions and 80% of the heat generated by greenhouse gases, which has led to a significant decrease in marine pH. In other words, ocean waters are becoming more and more acidic.

“Increased CO2 not only leads to global warming, it is also the main cause of a phenomenon known as acidification”, explains Xavier Pastor, “The oceans act as drains for CO2, reducing its concentration in the atmosphere, but this buffering effect seriously threatens the ocean’s chemical balance, which has grim consequences for marine ecosystems and biodiversity”.

In order to reduce and stabilize CO2 emissions, Oceana calls for a change in global energy models (which are currently based on contaminating, finite sources) towards clean, renewable energies. The development of offshore wind, for example, is a long-term key factor in various mitigation policies.

More information on climate change, acidification and renewable energies

Oceana TV: Acidification