In December 2019, government leaders and states will gather for the UNFCCC COP 25. This COP follows hard on the heels of the IPCC* Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) and has been described as the ‘Blue’ COP by Sebastián Piñera, the President of Chile.
As yet, the interaction between the ocean and climate has not been officially recognised within global processes such as the UNFCCC. Policies, targets and assessments which should recognise the ocean do not do so, in relation to:
- climate mitigation, e.g. carbon sequestration;
- ocean impact, e.g. acidification and heating;
- exacerbation, e.g. re-release of carbon.
The ocean and climate work together as part of the Earth System of our planet. Because of the close links between the two, the ocean has borne the brunt of the climate crisis, standing between humanity and its worst impacts. It has absorbed most of the excessive heat and much of the excessive carbon dioxide but at a cost which is detrimental to its health and our survival. It is time these essential services were reflected at the global level and with an acute awareness of solutions necessary to preserve the role of the ocean in mitigation and other services.
Holding heating to 1.5o C is crucial for the ocean and this target can only be achieved through states committing to more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in 2020.
At present, however, the level of ambition shown by countries in their domestic climate change plans (NDCs) are taking us towards 3oC. All states will need to raise the level of ambition significantly.