As the 2015 Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) opens today in the Bulgarian capital, the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) urged the ATCM to take action to promote the crucial importance of climate-related Antarctic research and its role in the Earth’s interconnected climate systems to the climate change community, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in the run up this year’s COP21 climate summit in Paris.
ASOC is also calling on the ATCM, which runs until June 10th, to take all possible actions to address climate change taking place within the Antarctic region, including through focused dialogue within the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), particularly in respect to the important role of a healthy Southern Ocean ecosystem in mitigating (reducing) carbon dioxide that would otherwise exacerbate climate change, and the development of a network of protected areas both on land and at sea.
In its role as the representative of global environmental non-governmental groups with an interested in Antarctica, ASOC will present six papers at this year’s ATCM, covering key Antarctic issues such as climate change, protected areas, tourism and shipping:
The Antarctic Treaty System, Climate Change and Strengthened Scientific Interface with Relevant Bodies of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
This ASOC paper outlines the important role of the Antarctic Treaty System in promoting the relevance of climate-related Antarctic research to the global climate change community, and of taking appropriate management actions in Antarctica, where possible, to address the effects of climate change.
Climate Change 2015: A Report Card
ASOC’s annual Climate Change Report Card summarizes up-to-date scientific findings on climate change in the Antarctic, including environmental changes such as temperature, ice sheets and glaciers, sea ice, ocean acidification, and species impacts. This year we also introduce a new category of “blue carbon” reflecting the uptake of carbon by krill.
Expanding Antarctica’s Protected Areas System
To date over 70 Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPAs) have been designated by the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), but recent analysis has found these do not fulfill the terms of the Protocol. In this paper, ASOC discusses how Antarctica Protected Areas System (ATCP) can counter this by increasing the size and number of ASPAs, with a focus on achieving representation of all known Antarctic Conservation Biogeographic Regions (ACBRs) and designating inviolate areas, wilderness areas, and areas of interest to science.
Antarctic Tourism and Protected Areas
This document discusses the interface between protected areas, in a broad sense, and the regulation and management of tourism. ASOC also discusses how area protection may be used with respect to potential vectors of tourism expansion, particularly the use of airstrips and dedicated land based tourism facilities.
Cumulative Impact Assessment
This paper briefly reviews discussions on cumulative impact assessment, with particular reference to shipborne and land based tourism, the establishment and operation of research stations, concepts of footprint and wilderness, and multi-year strategic planning.
Polar Code in Antarctica: Next steps for Vessel Management in the Southern Ocean
This paper summarizes a few new requirements of the Code and highlights some areas, which ASOC believes should have received further consideration during the IMO’s Part II of the Polar Code, which was finalized in May 2015.
Accessing the papers:
ASOC papers for this ATCM, plus those submitted to previous meetings are available here.
ASOC’s recent commentary on the adoption of Part II of the Polar Code is available here.