13/11/17

International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification Announces New Members, Including Fiji, and New Plans for Action at Climate Talks in Bonn

As part of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP23, the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification (OA Alliance) today announced new members, including the Republic of Fiji, and new commitments from world leaders to take action to protect oceans from the impacts of climate change. High-level government officials from around the world gathered to engage in meaningful conversations about ocean acidification (OA) and steps OA Alliance members can take to mitigate impacts through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The OA Alliance, founded by the West Coast states of California, Washington, Oregon and the Canadian Province of British Columbia, welcomed five new members to a rapidly growing worldwide coalition of governments and supporting affiliates committed to creating regional ocean acidification action plans and sharing climate action best practices with each other. The newest official members of the OA Alliance are Fiji, Sweden, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the scientific and technical organization Pacific Community (SPC). Tokelau also announced their intention to join the OA Alliance at today’s event.

Today’s event highlighted the importance of building relationships among national, state and regional governments to protect coastal communities and livelihoods. Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and Fiji Minister of Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau discussed how carbon emissions impact their fisheries, tourism and ecosystems and voiced a mutual call for climate leadership to protect our oceans.

“Ocean acidification is already negatively impacting the West Coast. We know that healthy oceans sustain jobs, support coastal economies and feed billions of people. Now all of this is at risk and will cause great damage to Washington’s shellfish industry, coastal communities, and tribes, who rely on the ocean for cultural, subsistence and economic resources,” Washington Governor Inslee said. “We must take action now to reduce carbon emissions to secure the health of the oceans. We stand with nations and subnational governments around the world ready to take bold action to protect these resources for future generations.”

The second part of the event focused on Ocean Acidification Action Plans as essential vehicles for implementing change at local, regional and global levels. Ocean Acidification Action Plans include a range of government, industry, and civil society actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other contributors to ocean acidification. They also include actions OA Alliance members can take to adapt and build resilience locally. In October, the OA Alliance announced a goal of developing 15 new member Ocean Acidification Action Plans by 2019.

“The economic impacts of ocean acidification in Oregon are very real. Using data to inform our policies, we have innovated solutions for the oyster industry within the state and are using this model to tackle the other challenges that climate change has brought to Oregon. Our experience should be a bellwether for other industries and states for what to expect as acidification intensifies over the coming decades,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown. “We must work together for the benefit of our collective future, our children’s future, and as part of responsible governance for the planet we all share. We are acting on a moral imperative through the policies we develop together on climate, energy, and ocean acidification.”

Ocean acidity has increased by 30 percent since the Industrial Revolution and is expected to double over pre-industrial levels by the end of this century as oceans absorb more than 90 percent of the excess heat caused by greenhouse gas pollution. Extensive laboratory and field studies conducted worldwide have documented the alarming impacts on fisheries and marine ecosystems due to ocean acidification and warming. From juvenile oyster die-offs in the Pacific Northwest to coral reef bleaching in the Caribbean and South Pacific Ocean, impacts are already being felt by coastal communities around the world.

The OA Alliance is a valuable element of the United Nations’ newly launched COP23 Presidency initiative, the Ocean Pathway Partnership. This initiative aims to increase collaboration among ocean- and climate-focused coalitions around priorities such as sustainable transport, cities and human settlements, population displacement and migration, coastal infrastructure, marine ecosystem services, ocean food security and ocean energy. The Ocean Pathway Partnership will launch officially on 16 November in Bonn.

Today’s event was live-streamed on Twitter via Periscope from the @PCCleads Twitter account, and a link will remain on the PCC Twitter feed for viewing for 24 hours after the broadcast concludes. To follow the Pacific Coast Collaborative at COP23, use the #PCCleads hashtag.