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Press Release:

Oceans Day in Copenhagen, December 14, 2009, 9:00 A.M-10:00 P.M.
European Environment Agency, Kongens
Nytorv 6 1050 Copenhagen K, Denmark


WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 - A special day is being set aside during the U.N.-sponsored international climate talks in Copenhagen in December to stress the urgent need to protect the central role of the oceans in the Earth’s life support system and address threats faced by coastal communities, especially in developing nations and small island States. Oceans Day, December 14, will highlight the direct link between climate change, ocean health, and human well-being.

Oceans Day will be opened by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, unveiling a new Blue Initiative. The day-long events are being sponsored by the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, the Government of Indonesia, and the European Environment Agency. Collaborators include a host of other governments and organizations, including the Government of the Seychelles, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and World Wildlife Fund.

“Climate change is having a profound impact on the world’s oceans,” said Dr. Biliana Cicin-Sain, Director of the Gerard J. Mangone Center for Marine Policy, College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, University of Delaware and Co-Chair of the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands. “Ocean warming directly impacts humans and ocean life, from sea level rise and increased storm intensity to habitat shifts and receding coastlines. These changes severely impact vulnerable coastal areas, and will result in loss of life, infrastructure damage, and economic ruin in some areas,” she added.

Oceans Day, to be held at the European Environment Agency during the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, December 7-18, will bring together in one place the latest scientific understanding about how climate change and increased carbon emissions affect ocean and coastal ecosystems, often in more disastrous ways than outlined in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. Experts will address the implications of the emerging Copenhagen agreement for oceans, coasts, and coastal communities around the globe.

“Recent science shows that the world is on track for a sea level rise of at least one, maybe two, meters by the end of the century. That would spell disaster, even disappearance, for some of the world’s small island States,” said Ambassador Dessima Williams, Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States and the Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations. “To ensure the survival of small island States, we urge the international community to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 ?C and stabilize concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to below 350 parts per million of CO2 equivalent levels.”

Media wishing to attend Oceans Day should contact Lauren McCollough at laurenmcmo@gmail.com or phone +1-202-255-3575.

Diplomats and Ocean Experts Urge Utmost Caution at Global Forum Side Event in Barcelona

The Global Forum and partners organized a side event on Oceans and Climate at the Barcelona UNFCCC negotiations, which took place in Barcelona, Spain from 2-6 November. The session considered the implications of different scenarios of emission reductions for oceans, coasts, and small island States, featured the latest scientific information on these issues and the perspectives of countries that are most affected. The data underscored the imperative for the UNFCCC negotiators to adopt a most precautionary approach. Please see the Side Event Leaflet.

The Forum’s “Projected Impacts on Oceans and Coastal Communities of Alternative Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Reduction Scenarios: the Need for Utmost Caution” panelists included:

• Biliana Cicin-Sain, Co-Chair, Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands
• Bill Eichbaum, VP of Marine and Arctic Policy, WWF-US (Oceans/Climate Imperatives)
• Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Professor, University of Queensland (Impacts on Coral Reefs and Peoples)
• Martin Sommerkorn, Senior Climate Change Advisor, WWF Arctic Program (Arctic Climate Feedbacks)
• Carol Turley, Head of Science, Plymouth Marine Laboratory (Ocean Acidification)
• Ambassador Dessima Williams, Chair, Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and Permanent Representative of   Grenada to the United Nations
• Hendra Yusran Siry, Government of Indonesia
• Manuel Cira, World Ocean Network

Panelists discussed the environmental, social and economic implications of alternative stabilization levels of anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere on oceans and coastal communities, including their scientific basis. Panelists also analyzed and compared possible consequences for the marine environment of GHG stabilization levels if business as usual continues, versus stabilization levels of 450 and 350 parts per million (ppm) CO2. Statements by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and the California Secretary of Natural Resources, Mike Chrisman, were presented, supporting strict emission reduction targets.

“Coastal communities, in both developed and developing countries, as well as in small island developing States (SIDS), are at the frontline of climate change impacts,” said Cicin-Sain. Communities from the Arctic to the tropics are impacted by increasing temperatures, sea ice melting, ocean surface warming, and changing ocean currents. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg discussed the impacts of climate change on coral reefs and coastal communities and concluded that “in order to preserve tropical coastal ecosystems, and the livelihoods of over 500 million people, carbon dioxide levels must be stabilized at or below 350 ppm.”

Ambassador Williams urged negotiators to “exercise utmost caution. We cannot credibly say that 2°C or thereabout is acceptable. We must have no more than 1.5°C. AOSIS also believes that mid-term targets are important and proposes reducing GHG equivalents to 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 in order to reach an overall reduction of 95% by 2050.”

The panel also called attention to “Oceans Day,” being held at the UNFCCC 15th Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen on December 14, 2009. Oceans Day will address the emerging Copenhagen agreement and discuss the way ahead for implementation of the agreement in the context of oceans and coastal communities.

Dr. Hendra Yusran Siry reported on the extensive efforts by the Indonesian government, in cooperation with various partners, to ensure that oceans and coasts are referred to in the appropriate sections of the UNFCCC negotiating text.

“It is essential that negotiations at Copenhagen remain on a track for binding agreements for major GHG reductions.” said Eichbaum. “There are 10 key substance elements that need to be dealt with in the final outcome of the Copenhagen process and therefore must be covered by a clear decision – the Copenhagen Deal. Copenhagen MUST deliver agreement on the future framework for global climate action.”

MORE INFORMATION

For more on Bill Eichbaum’s 10 key substance elements, please visit:
http://www.worldwildlife.org/what/wherewework/index-marine.html

Dr. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg’s full report is available at:
http://www.worldwildlife.org/climate/Publications/WWFBinaryitem12504.pdf

Dr. Martin Sommerkorn’s full report is available at:
http://www.worldwildlife.org/what/wherewework/arctic/WWFBinaryitem13542.pdf