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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Arctic Council to host side event at COP25

The Arctic Council will host a side event on ocean acidification at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain. The briefing for COP25 delegates and accredited journalists brings together acidification experts from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the East China Normal University / Norwegian Institute for Water Research, the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and the Inuit Circumpolar Council. The Icelandic Minister for the Environment will open the lunchtime side event, held in the Cryosphere Pavilion on 9 December 2019.

The acidity of the world’s oceans is likely rising faster than at any time during the past 55 million years. Some of the fastest rates of ocean acidification are occurring in the Arctic, which can have severe implications for the ecosystem and the people and communities dependent on these. The eight Arctic States, Indigenous organizations that have Permanent Participant status in the Arctic Council, and the Council’s Working Groups have therefore decided to bring the issue to a global arena – in the form of a COP25 side event themed “All Aboard! Tackling Polar Ocean Acidification”.

“The Arctic Council has facilitated strong cooperation on projects related to ocean acidification and its Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme has produced comprehensive circumpolar assessments, which include both state-of-the-art scientific knowledge as well as traditional knowledge and local knowledge. We therefore saw a strong potential in bringing our knowledge base on this topic to the COP25”, says Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials.

The Arctic is experiencing a fast rate of ocean acidification as cold water absorbs more carbon dioxide. In addition, dilution of sea water by river run-off and ice melt, as well as the inflow of naturally low pH waters from the Pacific, contribute further to decreasing pH levels in the Arctic Ocean.

The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme’s Arctic Ocean Acidification 2013 and 2018 reports show that Arctic marine ecosystems are highly likely to undergo significant changes as a result of ocean acidification. Changes to lower-level organisms such as shellfish could have cascading effects through the food chain. This will have direct and indirect effects on Arctic marine life and is likely to affect the availability and quality of marine based food resources for both Arctic and non-Arctic societies”, explains Rolf Rødven, executive secretary of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP).

One of the questions that the Arctic Council’s COP25 side event aims to discuss in Madrid on 9 December is: how should we employ scientific knowledge that scientists have accumulated in recent decades, and address ecosystem impacts? The event is co-organized with AMAP and brings four subject experts to the panel that will approach ocean acidification from different angles:

  • Ko Barrett, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Programs and Administration for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research at NOAA and IPCC Vice-Chair;

  • Prof. Richard Bellerby, Director of the SKLEC-NIVA Centre for Marine and Coastal Research, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China, and Lead researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Water Research;

  • Dr. Helen Findlay, Biological oceanographer at Plymouth Marine Laboratory; and

  • Lisa Koperqualuk, Vice President of International Affairs for the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada.

“I am very happy with the high-level panel that will address the issue at the upcoming COP25, and that all of the Arctic States could agree on a joint side event on ocean acidification. On behalf of the Icelandic Chairmanship, we are also particularly pleased to welcome Iceland’s Minister for the Environment and natural resources, HE. Mr. Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, for the opening remarks”, states Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson.

The 1,5-hour side event (13:00-14:30) will take place in the Cryosphere Pavilion, located in the Blue Zone of the COP25. It is accessible to all accredited delegates and media attending the COP25 and will also be live streamed. In addition, the Arctic Council will host a press conference on ocean acidification together with AMAP and the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative on 7 December at 14:00 in Room MOCHA.

Media interested in attending the side event/press conference are encouraged to reach out to the Arctic Council Secretariat (media@arctic-council.org) prior to the event for further information and interview opportunities.

 

Agenda

Opening remarks: Icelandic Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources,
HE. Mr. Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson


Expert
Panel

  • Ko Barrett, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Programs and Administration for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research at NOAA, IPCC Vice-Chair: The IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere.

  • Prof. Richard Bellerby, Director of the SKLEC-NIVA Centre for Marine and Coastal Research, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China, and Lead researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Bergen, Norway: Key findings of the AMAP Arctic Ocean Acidification report

  • Dr. Helen Findlay, Biological oceanographer at Plymouth Marine Laboratory: The impacts of ocean acidification on Arctic species and ecosystems

  • Lisa Koperqualuk, Vice President of International Affairs for the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada: The effects of ocean acidification on Inuit communities

Outlook: Rolf Rødven, Executive Secretary of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP): Summary of key points from presentations and overview of ongoing and upcoming work by AMAP related to ocean acidification

Moderator: Ambassador Stefán Skjaldarson, Arctic Council Chairmanship Iceland

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