The ocean is critical in regulating the Earth’s climate: it has absorbed 89% of the excess heat trapped inside the atmosphere since the 1970s, and every year absorbs at least a quarter of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released by human activities.

Their ability to absorb heat and CO2 means that marine ecosystems, and the human activities within them, are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Rising sea level and temperatures, reduced pH values, changes in rainfall amounts and reduced sea ice coverage, among others, are all effects of the rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. The impacts of climate change and ocean acidification as well as the need for adaptation, resilience and mitigation in all aspects of OSPAR’s work is of great importance, and is therefore deeply embedded in the 2030 North-East Atlantic Environment Strategy (NEAES 2030).

In 2023 COCOA produced a fact sheet on climate change and ocean acidificaiton in the North-East Atlantic.

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Working Group on Changing Ocean Climate and Ocean Acidification (WG COCOA)

To acknowledge the urgency of this issue, in 2023 OSPAR established a Working Group on Changing Ocean Climate and Ocean Acidification (WG COCOA). The WG works with the remit to facilitate the implementation of Strategic Objectives in the NEAES 2030 concerning ocean acidification and climate change, and to ensure the integration of climate change and ocean acidification throughout the OSPAR structure.

The group will work in accordance with its Terms of Reference.

In 2022 OSPAR became an affiliate member of the Ocean Acidification Alliance.

Key findings QSR 2023 (Synthesis report)

For delivering the OSPAR’s Quality Status Report 2023 a climate change expert group (CCEG) was established in 2021, convened by United Kingdom, to produce the climate change thematic assessment.

The Intersessional Correspondence Group on ocean acidification (ICG-OA), co-convened by Ireland and the Netherlands, worked to produce OSPAR's first ever assessment on ocean acidification for OSPAR's Quality Status Report 2023.

Briefing note on climate change