Monday, 14 December 2009

Experts call for oceans to be included in Copenhagen agreement

Ocean experts from around the world have called for the inclusion of oceans inside the text of any agreement that leaders come up with at the UN Climate Talks in Copenhagen.  While officials continue to grapple with the final agreement - which has been dominated by varying emissions level and the legality issues, the impact of greenhouse gases and emissions on the world's oceans has been highlighted as one of the hidden stories of climate change.

Although rising sea levels and the increase in storm intensities is well known, the other impacts of climate change such as acidification have not been prominent.

With oceans absorbing up to 50 percent of carbon dioxide emissions for the past 200 years, this has made the world's seas more acidic and is affecting fish stocks.

The move to get oceans into the UN negotiations text is backed by a number of countries including the coalition members of the Coral Triangle Initiative including Solomon Islands.

"We will push for oceans to be part of the climate change initiative, here at cant address climate change and not deal with oceans," says Solomon Islands Environment Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo.

For Solomon Islands the impact of ocean acidification will also be economic.

''Fishing is one of our main income earners, this will affect our economy as well those of distant fishing nations.''

The other members of the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) are Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste from the region and Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia.

The group's leader Indonesia says time is running out and oceans need to be made a focal point of the UNFCCC.

"We all need to build on the framework and take action now," says Indonesia's Maritime and Fisheries Minister Dr Fadal Muhammad.

The members of CTI were part of the Oceans Day event hosted by the European Environmental Agency, with the aim of bringing issue of oceans to the forefront of talks at Copenhagen.

The United Kingdom's secretary of state Hilary Benn acknowledged that developed countries have benefited  from releasing carbon through industrialization now developing countries simply want the same for their people.

The hard task now is to find a middle ground, acceptable to everyone as negotiations continue.

"We have 192 countries, and one world, we have on week left to get it right,'' says Benn.

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