Last Update: 08 September 2012

Climate Change and Coral Reefs

Climate change is nowadays recognised as one of the global top priorities and urgent interventions include the reduction, or at least stabilisation of greenhouse gas emissions and promotion of more natural and sustainable energy practices.

Climate and weather, although related, are two very different concepts: the former indicates the average pattern of weather for a particular region over a long period of time, while the second is the state of the atmosphere at a given time and place, with respect to variables such as temperature, moisture, wind velocity, and barometric pressure.

The global climate has changed in the history of the Earth and will always be subject to modifications due to natural causes such as, changes in solar radiation and in atmosphere composition, especially in the concentration of the so called ‘greenhouse gases’.  These gases, among them water vapour (H20), carbon dioxide (C02), and methane (CH4), are responsible of the so called ‘greenhouse effect’; catching the infra-red energy, they act as a heat-screen and control the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere.  Without them the global average temperature would be -18°C, whereas at the moment it is +15°C.

Humans are further enhancing the rate and extent of the warming of the atmosphere through the emissions of an unsustainable quantity of gases which will eventually cause natural disasters (storms, droughts and floods) and impact on the environment (availability of water and food, health, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity).

Climate change is nowadays recognised as one of the global top priorities and urgent interventions include the reduction, or at least stabilisation of greenhouse gas emissions and promotion of more natural and sustainable energy practices.

Climate change is already having many discernible impacts, for example, on polar ice caps and glaciers.  Over the last century, sea levels have risen around 10cm and are expected to continue rising. Sea temperatures have also increased, posing serious threats to the marine wildlife – such as coral bleaching. 

This change is happening, and we all bear the responsibility of it.  As individuals, we can still do more to reduce our negative impact on the Earth’s climate.

HEPCA is engaging a range of projects to encourage the enhancement of our understanding of the impact of climate change on the Red Sea region, as well as promoting new practices in sustainable living.  Our areas of involvement include:

  • Recycling and solid waste management;
  • Development of a sustainable hotels initiative;
  • Creation of a schools educational curriculum;

The joint effort of HEPCA, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and leading travel and tour operator Kuoni Travel Ltd brought about the organisation of a workshop entitled, “Marine Tourism and Climate Change” (Hurghada, 15-16 June 2009) and the launch of BleachWatch Egypt (March 2010)  You can read more about this initiative here

Your ecological footprint

As an individual you can make a difference and at the same time, save money on your bills! 

Browsing the web you will find personal footprint calculators…what? Basically, they enquire about your lifestyle and calculate how much your habits cost to the planet.   Give it a try!

There are small steps and immediate actions we can start adopting today without distorting our life.

Insulation
Heat loss through walls, roof and floor contributes to around 50% of overall heat loss within a building.  Insulation is one of the most effective ways to reduce CO2 emissions and to save energy in the long term. For example, double-glazing windows can save more than 70% of the energy otherwise lost.

Moderation
Use heating and air-conditioning in moderation.  Consider that turning down the heat of just 1°C cut up to 10% off your family's energy bill and avoid up to 300kg/year of CO2 emissions per household.
Air-conditioning units consume a huge quantity of energy and contribute around 650gr of CO2 emissions per hour, costing around € 0.10/hour.

Only use them when absolutely needed, and consider the use of a fan as an alternative.  Switch off or programme your appliances in order to have the desired temperature when you are actually at home, don’t let them operate unnecessarily whilst you are not there.

Maximization
Try to make the maximum advantage out of your domestic appliances: run washing and dishwashing machines when they are full and if possible at low temperatures.  Fill the freezer and fridge: it requires less energy to cool them if they are full.

Be an intelligent consumer
Be a responsible, aware and intelligent consumer. 

  • Choose newly certified and efficient appliances (not only fridges, but also washing machines, dishwashers, microwaves etc.)(ex. Grade A+ label in Europe).
  • Choose bigger: buy a bottle of 1.5l instead of 3 of 0.5l, this saves on the energy required to produce three bottles and reduces waste. 
  • Prefer big containers instead of single individual portions (for sugar, coffee, tea, for example).   
  • Choose refillable options: avoid purchasing a new bottle or container every time but simply re-fill from an energy efficient packet.
  • Choose local and seasonal produce: greenhouses requires a lot of energy, and the large scale trade of these goods lead to incredible amount of emission, mainly due to their transportation.  By growing or choosing your produce locally, you reduce this impact.

Move responsibly
On average, as passenger of the following means of transportation, we cause the following quantity:

CO2 to enter the atmosphere new car = 160 g/km, plane = 100 - 250 g/km, bus = 40 - 80 g/km, train 40 = 160g/km.
Cycling, walking, car-pooling, public transport save more than 2.5kg of CO2 which will be released for a litre of fuel in a car engine.

Avoid short car journeys: cold engines produces enormous amount of Co2 and consume more fuel.

Reduce, Recycle, Reuse

Other useful tips:
Don’t pre-wash your laundry, this will save 15% of the energy.
Switch off and de-plug lights, appliances, chargers, etc. when you are not using them
Turn off the tap when possible whilst brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and washing dishes.
Print less and, if you really have to print, double side your printing to use less paper.

Resources

PDF

Climate Change and Tourism in the Red Sea

Recognising early impacts through perceptions of dive tourists and dive
operators in Egypt.

( 3.48 MB )
PDF

Tourism & Climate Change flyer

( 3.54 MB )
PDF

Climate Change Action Plan

Action Plan by IUCN, HEPCA and KUONI to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change

( 89.06 KB )
PDF

Climate Change and Management Workshop

Description of workshop (June 2009) about "Responding to Climate Change" organised by IUCN, HEPCA and KUONI for Coral Reef Managers

( 919.01 KB )
PDF

Outcome of Climate Change and Management Workshop

News Flash from 16.08.2009 about results from workshop

( 39.93 KB )