With the estimate of a potential development of carbon markets and international agreements to cap CO2 emissions, a price tag can now be assigned to the acidification-driven degradation of the ocean’s large capacity to absorb CO2. The ocean’s current carbon uptake may soon represent an annual subsidy to the global economy of about 0.1 to 1% GDP. However, any fraction of the ocean’s uptake leads to degradation through ocean acidification, which in the future would imply an economic loss in proportion to the damage this causes, thus adding another slice to the overall costs of CO2 emissions.
The upcoming years will witness a heated debate on the adequate mix of mitigation technologies, such as sub-seabed CO2 sequestration or massive-scale deployment of solar thermal power, in view of costs and risks. The ocean acidification community could supply some of the necessary metrics for a rational discourse on how to judge the risks of CO2 leakage after sub-seabed CO2 sequestration against the benefits from reduced atmospheric CO2 concentration.
2. Knopf, B., Edenhofer, O., Turton, H., Barker, T.. Scrieciu, S., Leimbach, M., Baumstark, L., Kitous, A. Report on first assessment of low stabilisation scenarios, Report for EU Project ADAM, July 2008
3. Edenhofer, O., Knopf, B. et al. (2009) The economics of low stabilisation: exploring its implications for mitigation costs and strategies. The Energy Journal, Special Issue, 2009. in preparation.
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