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Western states, nations link in waters-protection alliance-Climate Wire

CORONADO, Calif. — Three Western states, Chile, France, tribal nations and others yesterday launched a task force aimed at addressing ocean acidification.

Anne C. Mulkern, E&E News reporter

Published: Wednesday, December 14, 2016

CORONADO, Calif. — Three Western states, Chile, France, tribal nations and others yesterday launched a task force aimed at addressing ocean acidification.

Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) announced the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification at the Western Governors’ Association meeting here. There’s an urgent need to act on climate, Brown said, regardless of President-elect Donald Trump’s promises to try to dismantle President Obama’s actions on warming. Trump has picked Cabinet appointees who question or reject climate science.

While there are changes in federal politics, Brown said, “what is not slowing down in any way is the change in the atmosphere, and the oceans, and the weather, and the climate.”

“We are taking whatever steps we can to find allies and partners in doing everything we can to forestall the catastrophic changes that are occurring in the air, the water, and to our lands,” Brown said. “This is such a reality. It’s so pervasive, and science is giving us very clear indications that we must take bold action.”

“We’re not waiting for anybody else,” he added. “We’re going to mobilize in the face of what is obviously a very adverse atmosphere politically for what we’re trying to do.”

Oceans absorb a third of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, which raises the water’s acidity and harms sea creatures in the marine food chain, Brown’s office said. The acidity, along with warming waters, also damages coral reefs, dissolves oyster shells and harms marine fisheries. The oceans have become 30 percent more acidic since scientists began taking measurements, and acidity is projected to double from preindustrial levels by the end of this century.

Alliance members include California; Oregon; Washington; Chile; France; Cross River State, Nigeria; Imperial Beach, Calif.; British Columbia; Quebec; the Quileute Nation; the Quinault Indian Nation; and the Suquamish Tribe. Affiliates include the Ocean Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Nature Conservancy and Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The group will seek to find regional and local funding for research and mitigation, add ocean acidification and ocean health commitments to climate agreements, convene experts to assist fish and shellfish industries, create a local or regional ocean acidification task force or commission to study local impacts, develop strategies to mitigate and adapt, and raise public awareness about ocean acidification.

The Pacific Coast Collaborative — linking California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia on energy, climate and other issues — invited other governments to join it in the oceans effort. Additionally, there were conversations about the issue last year at the U.N. climate conference in Paris.

Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens, consul general of France, said he hopes the United States will uphold its role in the climate pact reached in France. Regardless, he said, “the momentum created in Paris is irreversible. It is carried by popular will, by cities, by states, by NGOs, and above all by the private sector.” The oceans alliance is an example of it, he added.

Twitter: @AnneCMulkern Email: amulkern@eenews.net

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