Legarda: Climate Action Vital in Protecting Our Oceans

June 7, 2017

In celebration of World Oceans Day on June 8, Senator Loren Legarda renewed her call to limit global warming as a way to safeguard the world’s oceans and reduce impacts of climate change.


Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change and UNISDR Global Champion for Resilience, said that oceans have absorbed about a third of global carbon dioxide emissions, causing acidification. This has also resulted in coral bleaching.


“Ocean acidification is causing irreversible damage to coral reefs. With global warming of up to 2°C, 98 percent of coral reefs will die by 2050. A World Bank study shows that this would cause decrease in marine fish capture by about 50 percent in the southern Philippines by the year 2050,” she explained.


Moreover, climate change is also causing sea level rise. If global temperature rises by 2°C, sea level rise is projected to be less than 70 centimeters; with warming of up to 4°C, sea level rise is projected to be more than 100 cm.


“For an archipelagic country like the Philippines, this unraveling scenario is a nightmare due to threats of inundation, decrease in fish catch, and weak tourism in marine environments. Rising sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification are projected to cause major damages to coral reef systems,” Legarda said.


She explained that reefs are complex ecosystems that are vital to the continuity of life in the sea. They protect coastlines from wave and storm erosion and function as nurseries and habitats for thousands of marine species. They are ultimately connected to mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and countless other ecosystems.


“We have relied so much on the oceans for our existence – for food, for employment, for energy and for recreation. However, global warming, rapid population growth along with unsustainable marine practices such as overfishing, waste dumping, oil spills, among others, have seriously damaged marine habitats and life in the sea over the years,” Legarda stressed.


The Senator said carbon emissions reduction is crucial in protecting our oceans. Restoration of mangroves, seagrass beds and marshes, which absorb up to five times more carbon than tropical forests, will help alleviate ocean acidification. These coastal ecosystems likewise serve as buffers for storm surge and tsunami.


“We must adopt responsible fishing practices and sustainable marine management and conservation systems not only to improve fisheries yield but also to maintain ecological balance. We must all work together to bring back our oceans and the whole marine ecosystem to excellent condition so that our seas can benefit us in a sustainable manner. The theme for this year’s World Oceans Day celebration is ‘Our Oceans, Our Future’, but the future of our oceans, and that of us humans, relies on how much action we are willing to take today,” Legarda concluded.