From science to policy
UK marine climate change: looking ahead
The UK Marine and Coastal Access Bill and the forthcoming Scottish Marine Bill and Northern Ireland Marine Bill do not contain provisions to directly tackle the effects of climate change on the marine environment. However, the proposals are intended to be sufficiently flexible to take account of changes to the marine environment whether this arises through climate change, technological development or for any other reason.
The marine policy statement and marine plans, will help to ensure the UK makes appropriate use of marine resources in the fight against climate change
Climate change legislation
The Climate Change Act requires a programme of policies and proposals which contribute to the achievement of sustainable development and set out how the UK Government will respond to the risks facing the UK as a result of climate change. It also places a duty on Welsh Ministers to lay before the National Assembly for Wales a report on the objectives, action taken and future priorities of the Welsh Ministers in relation to greenhouse gas emissions and the impact of climate change in Wales.
A Climate Change (Scotland) Bill also proposes a duty for Scottish Ministers to provide a programme of policies and proposals to address the consequences of climate change.
Developing marine climate change adaptation strategies in the UK
Our MCCIP adaptation survey and workshop demonstrated a clear need to develop integrated marine adaptation strategies bringing together nature conservation with public and private sector interests at national, regional and local scales to build adaptive capacity.
UK's Ocean Acidification Programme
The Natural Environment Research Council and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs are developing a collaborative five year research programme of approximately £12m to consider ocean acidification. The drivers and rationale for the programme are detailed in the NERC Earth System Science Theme Action Plan. The research programme will focus on the north-east Atlantic (including European shelf and slope), Antarctic and Arctic Oceans.
UK Climate Projections
The new update to UKCIP's climate projections will include a separate marine and coastal projections report for the first time. MCCIP will have an important role to play in communicating its findings.
Identifying research priorities
MCCIP is looking to develop a list of marine climate change impacts research gaps. The list will consider what we need to know and what this information is needed for.
MCCIP Annual Report Cards
MCCIP will continue to provide up-to-date information on marine climate change impacts with the next report card being prepared for 2010.
EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive aims to achieve good environmental status in Europe's waters by 2020. As we develop our understanding of what good environmental status means and the measures we are going to need to put in place to achieve it, it is vital that this is influenced by our growing understanding of the impacts of climate change on the marine environment.
Five key issues for decision makers to consider
- Changes are happening now and will continue to happen. The UK Climate Projections will provide important insights into future change.
- Ocean acidification is a critical emerging issue and the UK's Ocean Acidification Programme, along with other international research initiatives will become important sources of knowledge over the next five years.
- The interconnected nature of marine ecosystems magnifies the many discrete impacts of climate change and this needs to be considered when making management decisions.
- Global changes in marine ecosystems as a result of climate change will have impacts for the UK at national, regional and local levels.
- The evidence base provided by long term data sets and specific research programmes are extremely important in understanding the impacts of climate change.
Demonstrating excellence in the UK
In 2005, the UK Government and devolved administrations undertook a review on progress in meeting their vision for 'clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse seas' and towards making a real difference within a generation. One of the major conclusions from that work was that it was difficult to form a clear overview on the impacts of climate change on the marine environment. From this conclusion was born the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) and the development of annual report cards.
The ecosystem linkages report card draws on the existing strengths of MCCIP in bringing together leading science and policy approaches in the UK into a unified, easy to access document on what is changing, how confident we are and why it matters. This new 'big picture approach' illustrates the world-leading role the UK is taking to best understand and communicate what is happening to our seas as a result of climate change and ocean acidification. It also illustrates the leading nature and excellence of marine science in the UK and showcases key work underway throughout the country.
It shows that although marine science is distributed across many institutions and research centres, by bringing it together we form a compelling view on marine climate change, and illustrate the quality and diversity of science that is needed to support decision making in this area. It is noticeable how a broad base of research is needed to understand both the current impacts and what may happen in the future, alongside the increasing importance of long-term datasets and earth observing systems.
Our seas also have a role to play in developing mitigation strategies and marine renewable energy is being proposed as a clean alternative to traditional energy sources and the oceans capacity for carbon storage is being investigated.