» Healthy Oceans New Key to Combating Climate Change
24.10.2009 -

Healthy Oceans New Key to Combating Climate Change

Towards COP15 Copenhagen


"Because the ocean has already absorbed 82 percent of the total additional energy accumulated in the planet due to global warming, it is fair to say that the ocean has already spared us from dangerous climate change," says Patricio Bernal, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO, IOC Executive Secretary.

"But each day we are essentially dumping 25 million tons of carbon into the ocean. As a consequence, the ocean is turning more acidic, posing a huge threat to organisms with calcareous structures."

A ‘Blue Carbon’ fund able to invest in the maintenance and rehabilitation of key marine ecosystems should be considered by governments keen to combat climate change. A new Rapid Response Report released today estimates that carbon emissions--equal to half the annual emissions of the global transport sector--are being captured and stored by marine ecosystems such as mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses. A combination of reducing deforestation on land, allied to restoring the coverage and health of these marine ecosystems could deliver up to 25 per cent of the emissions reductions needed to avoid ‘dangerous’ climate change.

Blue Carbon - the role of healthy oceans in binding carbon

A rapid respond assessment

But the report, produced by three United Nations agencies and leading scientists and launched during National Marine Month in South Africa, warns that far from maintaining and enhancing these natural carbon sinks humanity is damaging and degrading them at an accelerating rate.

It estimates that up to seven per cent of these ‘blue carbon sinks’ are being lost annually or seven times the rate of loss of 50 years ago.

“If more action is not taken to sustain these vital ecosystems, most may be lost within two decades,” says the report Blue Carbon: the Role of Healthy Oceans in Binding Carbon launched by the UN Environment Programe (UNEP), the Food and Agricultural Organisation and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.

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