What is the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification and What Will It Do?

The Alliance brings together jurisdictions across the globe to combat ocean acidification and changing ocean conditions as an immediate and critical threat to coastal economies and ocean ecosystems. The Alliance invites individual members, both government and affiliate, at all stages of learning about and responding to ocean acidification.

The Alliance will work to advance scientific understanding of ocean acidification; take meaningful actions to reduce causes of acidification; protect the environment and coastal communities from impacts of a changing ocean; expand public awareness and understanding of acidification; and build sustained support for addressing this global problem.

In particular, the Alliance will work in support of inclusion of ocean health and ocean acidification mitigation, adaptation and resiliency strategies in international climate agreements.

What ocean acidification impacts are being seen already?

Ocean acidity has increased by 30 percent and is expected to double over pre-industrial levels by the end of this century as a result of the ocean absorbing one-third of the atmospheric carbon dioxide generated by human activities. More alarming, based on extensive laboratory and field studies conducted worldwide, significant impacts on fisheries and marine ecosystems have already been documented due to ocean acidification and will worsen in the future. From oyster die-offs in North America to coral reef bleaching in the Caribbean and South Pacific Ocean – impacts are already being felt by coastal communities around the world.

Why is the OA Alliance Needed?

Many jurisdictions around the world are gathering scientific information regarding ocean acidification. While more remains to be understood and more investment in scientific inquiry is critical, it is becoming increasingly urgent to take actions.  Jurisdictions must work together to reduce the sources of acidifying pollutants, to share knowledge about the impacts of ocean acidification, and to adapt locally to the ongoing changes in ocean conditions.

Working to halt the progress of ocean acidification and manage its impacts on our coastal communities, marine economies and ecosystems requires new focus, new investments and a new commitment to international and local action.

What do jurisdictions/governments commit to when they join as members?

By joining the OA Alliance, member governments endorse the Call to Action and commit to broadly support the five goals within the Call. They also commit to creating a customized OA Action Plan that addresses one or more of the five goals. Member governments are encouraged to work with affiliates and others to leverage their existing capacity and to build support for actions that successfully address OA and other changing ocean conditions.   Example local actions might include:

  • Prioritizing regional and local funding to address ocean acidification research, monitoring and mitigation efforts;
  • Adding ocean acidification and ocean health commitments to regional and local climate agreements;
  • Convening experts to assist fish and shellfish industries to monitor and adapt to local impacts of ocean acidification;
  • Creating a local or regional ocean acidification task force or commission to study local impacts, develop strategies to mitigate and adapt, and to raise public awareness of ocean acidification;
  • Supporting existing international science and monitoring activities such as the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON) and the Ocean Acidification international Reference User Group (OAiRUG) that drive scientific information exchange and best practices in the areas of research and monitoring.

Members will be supported in their work to develop and advance OA Action Plans, through information exchange of the most recent and relevant science and best practices. Members will also have access to an Action Toolkit, as a source of ideas for local action, and to regular convening of members at international oceans and climate meetings.

What is an affiliate? What do they commit to?

The Alliance invites universities, non-governmental organizations, industry associations, businesses, and other parties to join and participate as affiliate members. Affiliates are asked to support the development and implementation of government OA Action Plans and are encouraged to create their own organizational OA Action Plan.   Affiliate involvement brings vital expertise and perspectives and supports broader awareness of OA issues and actions.

Affiliate members will be asked to engage as supporters of the Alliance and where possible, join Alliance members at events and workshops to help advance the Alliance goals. Alliance members can elevate the issue of ocean acidification within their organizations and networks.

How will the OA Alliance engage and support its members?

Members will be supported in their work to develop and advance OA Action Plans, through information exchange of the most recent and relevant science and best practices.   Members will have access to an Action Toolkit, as a source of ideas for local action, as well as access to example OA Action Plans.

The Alliance will host member webinars, calls, and organize periodic convening of members at international oceans and climate-related meetings.

How does the OA Alliance connect with other existing international efforts related to ocean acidification?

The Alliance supports the work of international science and monitoring activities such as the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network(GOA-ON) and the Ocean Acidification international Reference User Group (OAiRUG) that are critical for driving scientific information exchange and best practices in the areas of research, monitoring and modeling. The Alliance encourages its members to participate in all relevant efforts.

How is this Alliance’s work connected to future international climate agreements?

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been the convening body focusing on reducing greenhouse gases and addressing climate change globally since 1994. In 2015, 195 countries signed the historic Climate Agreement in Paris committing to meaningful and timely action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius.

Because increased carbon emissions absorbed by the oceans are the primary cause of ocean acidification, ocean warming, and other changing ocean conditions, the world’s nations and subnational governments must succeed in reducing emissions in order to protect the health of the oceans and other natural systems on which the planet depends. As part of its work plan, the Alliance will work with partner governments, initiatives and organizations to ensure ocean acidification and other climate-related changes in ocean conditions are addressed in future climate agreements at COP23 and beyond.

Whose idea was this, to create the Alliance?

The Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC) was formed in 2008, when the leaders of the U.S. states of California, Oregon and Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia agreed to work together on energy, climate, ocean health and other issues, as a region. In response to mounting evidence of the ecosystem and economic damage currently resulting from acidification on the West Coast of the United States and Canada, the PCC leaders invited other national and subnational governments to join them in founding the new Alliance.  About the Pacific Coast Collaborative (www. pacificcoastcollaborative.org).

Will it cost to join the Alliance, am I making a binding commitment of time or future resources?

No, there is no cost to joining the Alliance. Our aim is to bring in diverse members at all stages of investment and understanding. We are looking for consistent engagement and commitments that demonstrate strong support for advancing Alliance goals. Individual member commitments are made completely in keeping with their own determined ability to meet goals set forth in a unique OA Action Plan.

Over time, and in keeping with the Alliance’s jointly developed work plan, there may be opportunities for interested members to commit resources that help advance specific projects, priority issues or support Alliance events, if desired.

Joining the Alliance has no legal effect; imposes no legally binding obligation enforceable in any court of law or other tribunal of any sort, nor creates any funding expectation; nor shall signatories be responsible for actions of third parties or associates.

Are there technical experts I can consult?

Yes, we are connected with technical experts across the U.S. and Canadian West Coast and internationally who can help provide detailed information for interested members. We can put you in touch with the most applicable resource as we better understand your interests and needs. Please feel free to contact us.

How do I get copies of your prior reports?

We can provide scientific reports that have been used as the scientific foundation for outlining the Alliance’s goals, including the foundational West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel reports and recommendations.