[Coral-List] Thank you ISRS!

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg oveh at uq.edu.au
Thu Dec 17 06:22:59 EST 2015

Dear ISRS Members and Coral Listers,

We would like to thank all of you who assisted ISRS in our efforts to inform delegates to the recent Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) of the importance of the impact of ocean warming and acidification on coral reef ecosystems. This includes those of you who contributed to, or commented on, the text of our Consensus Statement; those who undertook or assisted in the work involved in translating it into four additional languages, those who distributed the Statement or passed it to national delegates, and those who signed our on-line petition.

Given our efforts, and the importance of coral reefs to all of us, it is with deep relief that we observe that the accepted text of COP21 adopts goals that closely align with our recent ISRS statement.
The clear messages in multiple languages from the coral reef community provided a very credible basis for influencing negotiators - and when taken with the messages from many other groups that were attending or lobbying the conference - played a very important role in obtaining the COP21 outcome.
Here is the accepted COP21 text that is critically important to coral reefs:
"Emphasizing with serious concern the urgent need to address the significant gap between the aggregate effect of Parties' mitigation pledges in terms of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and aggregate emission pathways consistent with holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C" (page 2). http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09.pdf
And here is what we had wished for through our ISRS Consensus Statement:
"The International Society for Reef Studies thus calls on all nations and negotiators at the Paris Climate Change Conference to commit to limiting atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations to no more than 450 ppm in the short-term, and reducing them to 350ppm in the long-term. This should keep average global temperature increase to less than 2°C (or 3.6°F) in the short-term, and less than 1.5°C (or 2.7°F) in the long-term, relative to the pre-industrial period. This would prevent global collapse of coral reef ecosystems and allow coral reefs to survive in perpetuity." http://coralreefs.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/ISRS-Consensus-Statement-on-Coral-Bleaching-Climate-Change-FINAL-14Oct2015-HR.pdf
Not a bad end of year present indeed!
Of course, the real work starts now.  The current set of INDC pledges (for national cuts in carbon emissions)- if implemented - will still take us to 3°C or more of global warming.  That would be disastrous for coral reefs and indeed most other natural and human systems.  However, the enshrinement of a five year review and tightening mechanism (with a commitment to no slippage) offers a mechanism for increasing emission goals based on progress to target temperatures (keeping the pressure on governments as regards the importance of 1.5oC in the long-term).
Best wishes to everyone - we look forward to collaborating with you in 2016 and at the 13th ICRS in Honolulu where we will host events to discuss and chart a course for how our community can best contribute to this great mission.
With thanks and the season's greetings,
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (Lead author, ISRS Consensus Statement)
Ruth Gates (President, ISRS)
Rupert Ormond (Corresponding Secretary, ISRS)
Sue Wells (ISRS Representative at COP21)

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