COP25 – Expected Ocean Outcomes: Will it deliver the Blue?

Date: 11th December 2019

Media Advisory

This is a ‘heads-up’ based on internal information on the draft final communiqué text, which looks set to include significant commitments to integrate the ocean into the formal UNFCCC process.

Madrid, December 12: Prominent ocean experts from science, policy and high-level advocacy at COP25 are giving a cautious welcome to draft text on the central role of the ocean in the climate crisis which could feature in the meeting’s final communiqué.

With three days to go until governments conclude climate talks in Madrid, ocean scientists and campaigners say provisional UNFCCC text could:

  • recognise, for the first time, the critical importance of the ocean as an integral part of the Earth’s climate system for both mitigation and adaptation,
  • signal a process to formally embed dialogue on the ocean-climate nexus under the SBSTA* process. The SBSTA meeting in Bonn June 2020 is seen as the next crucial moment in more deeply integrating the ocean/climate nexus in both mitigation and adaptation measures.
  • commit to feeding outcomes from that dialogue in to COP26.

Sources stress the text is still being negotiated, but that if adopted it would represent “a positive, minimum first stepping stone to integrating the ocean in to the COP process, something which has been woefully lacking up until now.”

As the COP draws to a close, ocean experts across a spectrum of science, high-level advocacy and policy bodies have issued an appeal for the following three imperative steps:

Ocean Climate Science Now Unequivocal – Greater Government Ambition Urgent

“This year, and this COP, have seen landmark scientific reports pointing to the destruction facing the global ocean and life systems it supports. First the IPCC Special Report on the  Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, and this week, the IUCN’s chilling report on the rapid increase in ocean deoxygenation. Tackling climate breakdown and holding warming at or as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible is essential if the ecosystem services of the ocean are to survive. Governments must act with the greatest possible ambition to urgently cut Co2 emissions and reduce all other stressors on the ocean, or we face losing one of our biggest weapons in curbing catastrophic disruption to civilisation.” Dan Laffoley, Senior Advisor Marine Science and Conservation in IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Programme and a co-editor of the deoxygenation report.

Block the Ocean Skeptics – “Ocean Smart” NDCs essential

“The evidence of the need to integrate climate and ocean action together is now unequivocal. We must prevent the ocean skeptics in the room from blocking this integration. The recognition of the ocean by COP25 will significantly help raise global climate ambition as we enter 2020 and the 2nd ambition cycle of the Paris agreement. States need to commit, as swiftly as possible, to new and more ambitious “ocean smart” Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in 2020 to achieve this.” Rémi Parmentier, Secretary of Because the Ocean

2020: “Do or Die” for Ocean Governance and Protection

“This COP has made clearer than ever the inextricable link between ocean and climate. 2020 presents two vital opportunities to secure its protection from other stressors. 1) The global community must secure full or high protection for at least 30% of the ocean by 2030, which the scientific consensus says is the minimum needed for ocean resilience, with steps to ensure the remaining 70% is sustainably managed. This goal should be agreed by Governments at the 2020 UN Biodiversity Conference in Kunming, China. 2) In addition, a robust new treaty, currently being negotiated at the United Nations to protect the ocean area beyond the national jurisdiction of any state, which makes up half the planet and two-thirds of the whole ocean – should be finalized in 2020. These two international agreements next year are essential to shoring up ocean health in the face of unprecedented climate disruption.” Lisa Speer, Director, International Ocean Program, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

The Madrid climate summit, which was dubbed the Blue COP by Chile when it was planning the conference, has brought possibly the largest ever contingent of ocean experts and advocates to attend a UNFCCC meeting. Significant ocean-focus has included:

  • a new international initiative by Chile to ensure the capacity of the ocean as a powerful mitigating force against rapidly worsening climate change is fully recognised;
  • “Ocean Day” events hosted by The European Union and Spain at their conference pavilions;
  • a series of hard-hitting new ocean reports, released by scientists and NGOs during the meeting, about new measurements of decline, but also about the role the ocean can play in turning the climate trajectory around;
  • more than 100 side events and exhibits focussed on the ocean.

Related news:
Borradores documento COP25 reconocen la importancia crítica de los océanos
La integración de los océanos en todas las negociaciones de la ONU, único avance concreto hasta el momento en la COP25


*About SBSTA
The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) is one of two permanent subsidiary bodies to the Convention established by the COP/CMP. The SBSTA plays an important role as the link between the scientific information provided by expert sources such as the IPCC on the one hand, and the policy-oriented needs of the COP on the other hand.

Media contact: Patricia Roy | 
Communications Inc | France, Spain and EU | Tel. +34 696 905 907 |

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