Global economy may lose billions to ocean acidification, UN report warns

A UN report says the global economy could be losing as much as one trillion dollars annually by the end of the century if countries failed to take urgent steps to stop ocean acidification.

The UN report was launched on Wednesday in Pyeongchang in the Republic of Korea.

According to the report, the figure reflects the economic loss for industries linked to coral reefs alone, which are some of the most vulnerable species to this phenomenon.

The report said that the overall financial and environmental costs were still uncertain.

“An Updated Synthesis of the Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Biodiversity was issued in Pyeongchang by the Convention on Biological Diversity at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP-12).

“Ocean acidification is the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth’s oceans, caused by a drastic increase in carbon dioxide emissions due to human activity,’’ the report said.

The report stressed that the phenomenon “is occurring at unprecedented levels, threatening marine biodiversity and ultimately human society’’.

Higher acidity makes it harder for marine organisms like corals to calcify their shells and skeletons, which disturbs the balance of the entire ecosystem.

The report stated that pteropods, which act as the “potato chips of the sea” because lots of organisms feed on them, are important in lots of food webs, but are severely threatened by ocean acidification.

The report was put together by a team of 30 international experts led by UK scientists.

It finds that ocean acidification has increased by around 26 per cent since pre-industrial times, and will continue to increase in the next 50 to 100 years, drastically affecting marine organisms and ecosystems as well as the goods and services they provide.

“While reversing ocean acidification is impossible at this stage the report stated, it is still possible to reduce the rate of CO2 emissions and eventually halt them.’’

On Oct. 6, a report, Global Diversity Outlook Four, was released at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, known as COP-12, in Pyeongchang.

The report tracked progress made to date on the 20 targets and drew attention to the implications on broader sustainable development this century.

It cautioned that continuing with ‘business as usual’ in peoples’ patterns of behaviour, consumption, production and economic incentives would not allow the realisation of the vision of a world with ecosystems capable of meeting human needs into the future.

The report shows “significant progress” towards meeting some components of the Aichi targets.

“Reaching these joint objectives requires changes in society, including much more efficient use of land, water, energy and materials, rethinking our consumption habits and, in particular, major transformations of food production systems.”

In the report’s forward, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underlined the link between biodiversity and sustainable development.

He urged Members States and stakeholders everywhere to take the report’s conclusions into account in their planning and “redouble efforts” to achieve the targets.