COMMONS

Ocean acidification inquiry launched

10 December 2016

The Committee has decided to undertake follow-up scrutiny on the issue of ocean acidification

Background

The Committee published reports on Marine Science in 2007 (PDF 845.71 KB) and 2013, noting the importance of combating increasing ocean acidification. The 5-year NERC UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme ended in 2015. In the same year, "minimising and addressing the impacts of ocean acidification" was identified as one of the targets of UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 – ‘Life Below Water'.

Submitting written evidence

The Committee would welcome written submissions which might address the following issues:

  • The role of increased CO2 emissions, and any other drivers or feedback mechanisms, on ocean acidification.
  • Whether ocean acidification and its impact varies regionally.
  • The main socio-economic, industry, ecosystem and environmental impacts of ocean acidification.
  • The level of understanding of the processes and impacts of ocean acidification. The gaps in terms of monitoring, prevention, mitigation, and adaptation.The impact of previous UK research work, and the sufficiency of research currently underway.
  • What areas of Government policy-making are currently held back by insufficient knowledge/evidence on ocean acidification, and the risks this poses.
  • What policy interventions are needed to tackle ocean acidification—in terms of both the known science and the uncertainties—and what the barriers are to implementation.

Written evidence can be submitted through the ocean acidification inquiry page.

Chair's Comments

Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, said:

"Climate change often overshadows other environmental issues, but it is not the only problem being caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide. CO2 is also being absorbed by the oceans, making our oceans gradually more acidic.

More research is needed to understand the implications of this ocean acidification and the trends in ocean pH levels. But a reduction in the sea’s alkalinity could have damaging impacts on coral reefs and shell-forming sea creatures. That is because the calcium carbonate in shells and coral can dissolve in acid.

About seventy per cent of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans but our scientific understanding of the marine environment is patchy at best. Now that the UK's five year Ocean Acidification Research Programme has ended, we are launching the first parliamentary inquiry on this concerning topic to examine what has been learned and make recommendations to Government.
Should we be worried about the consequences of ocean acidification for the food chain and the marine economy? How bad is the problem? And what policy interventions should the Government be bringing forward to tackle it? These are all questions that we will address in this inquiry." 

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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