Don’t shun the ocean

Don’t shun the ocean – IUCN tells climate leaders


** This information was provided by Dorothée Herr, Marine Programme Officer, IUCN Global Marine Programme via the MARINE listserve of The Society for Conservation Biology **



The IUCN recently released The Ocean and Climate Change – Tools and Guidelines for Action, to help decision-makers understand the importance of the ocean in the global climate debate – and the cost of not taking action. The report provides a comprehensive view of the mitigation and adaptation strategies available, as well as a clear set of action recommendations.


“Maintaining biodiversity and restoring degraded ecosystems are cost-effective strategies for disaster risk reduction and will help poor communities adapt to climate change while ensuring the continued provision of vital services,” says Dorothée Herr, lead author of the report and IUCN’s Global Marine Program Officer.


The ocean is the earth’s most significant global heat buffer, and absorbs up to one third of the CO2 released by human activities. The ocean covers over seventy percent of our planet’s surface yet much less than one percent of the ocean is effectively protected. Marine ecosystems such as salt marshes, coral reefs and mangroves are among the most vulnerable to climate change, with millions of people relying on them for food, protection, tourism and development. 


The report urges global leaders to significantly reduce CO2 emissions and to set reduction targets based on the latest science on ocean acidification and marine ecosystems. The report welcomes the development of sustainable marine renewable energy sources and promotes the use of coastal ecosystems as natural carbon sinks. The report however also carries an important warning to world leaders:


We should explore all possible ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Head of IUCN Global Marine Programme. “But proposed actions such as ocean fertilization to increase carbon capture and storage need to be approached with caution as the possible impacts on the atmosphere and marine biodiversity may be severe and have not been fully evaluated.”


To read the full report visit:


Executive Summary: