Global inequities between polluters and the polluted: climate change impacts on coral reefs

Wolff, Nicholas H., Donner, Simon D., Cao, Long, Iglesias-Prieto, Roberto, Sale, Peter F. and Mumby, Peter J. (2015) Global inequities between polluters and the polluted: climate change impacts on coral reefs. Global Change Biology, 21 11: 3982-3994. doi:10.1111/gcb.13015


Author Wolff, Nicholas H.
Donner, Simon D.
Cao, Long
Iglesias-Prieto, Roberto
Sale, Peter F.
Mumby, Peter J.
Title Global inequities between polluters and the polluted: climate change impacts on coral reefs
Journal name Global Change Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1365-2486
1354-1013
Publication date 2015-11-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/gcb.13015
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 21
Issue 11
Start page 3982
End page 3994
Total pages 13
Place of publication Chichester, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Subject 2306 Global and Planetary Change
2304 Environmental Chemistry
2303 Ecology
2300 Environmental Science
Abstract For many ecosystem services, it remains uncertain whether the impacts of climate change will be mostly negative or positive and how these changes will be geographically distributed. These unknowns hamper the identification of regional winners and losers, which can influence debate over climate policy. Here, we use coral reefs to explore the spatial variability of climate stress by modelling the ecological impacts of rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification, two important coral stressors associated with increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We then combine these results with national per capita emissions to quantify inequities arising from the distribution of cause (CO emissions) and effect (stress upon reefs) among coral reef countries. We find pollution and coral stress are spatially decoupled, creating substantial inequity of impacts as a function of emissions. We then consider the implications of such inequity for international climate policy. Targets for GHG reductions are likely to be tied to a country's emissions. Yet within a given level of GHG emissions, our analysis reveals that some countries experience relatively high levels of impact and will likely experience greater financial cost in terms of lost ecosystem productivity and more extensive adaptation measures. We suggest countries so disadvantaged be given access to international adaptation funds proportionate with impacts to their ecosystem. We raise the idea that funds could be more equitably allocated by formally including a metric of equity within a vulnerability framework.
Formatted abstract
For many ecosystem services, it remains uncertain whether the impacts of climate change will be mostly negative or positive and how these changes will be geographically distributed. These unknowns hamper the identification of regional winners and losers, which can influence debate over climate policy. Here, we use coral reefs to explore the spatial variability of climate stress by modelling the ecological impacts of rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification, two important coral stressors associated with increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We then combine these results with national per capita emissions to quantify inequities arising from the distribution of cause (CO2 emissions) and effect (stress upon reefs) among coral reef countries. We find pollution and coral stress are spatially decoupled, creating substantial inequity of impacts as a function of emissions. We then consider the implications of such inequity for international climate policy. Targets for GHG reductions are likely to be tied to a country's emissions. Yet within a given level of GHG emissions, our analysis reveals that some countries experience relatively high levels of impact and will likely experience greater financial cost in terms of lost ecosystem productivity and more extensive adaptation measures. We suggest countries so disadvantaged be given access to international adaptation funds proportionate with impacts to their ecosystem. We raise the idea that funds could be more equitably allocated by formally including a metric of equity within a vulnerability framework.
Keyword Bleaching
Climate change
Coral reefs
Equity
Green Climate Fund
Ocean acidification
Vulnerability
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
 
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 6 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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