CLIMATE COP RECOGNISES THE OCEAN BUT FAILS TO TAKE ACTION TO SAVE OUR BLUE PLANET

Date: 14th December 2019

Media Release

Long awaited recognition about the vital role of the ocean in the climate system is poor recompense for failures to tackle the climate emergency

Madrid, 14.12.2019: As COP25 in Madrid comes to a close without the level of ambition and action required to tackle the climate emergency, the inclusion of text related to the ocean is an important but inadequate step forward.

Climate breakdown is having a significant impact on the ocean, drastic cuts in CO2 and meaningful action is urgent and essential to avert serious impacts on ocean health and function.

“The failures at Madrid are of extreme concern for all ocean scientists and wider humanity. Climate change is now a major driver of species decline leading towards extinction in the ocean. This is happening at a geographically unprecedented rate to which adaptation through the natural processes of evolution are not possible. Without immediate and large-scale cuts to CO2 emissions we will miss the opportunity to keep global warming at or below 1.5oC.” said Alex Rogers, science director of REV Ocean

For the first time, negotiated text recognises the critical importance of the ocean as an integral part of the Earth’s climate system and of ensuring the integrity of ocean and coastal ecosystems in the context of climate change; signals a process to convene dialogue on the ocean-climate nexus under the fifty-second SBSTA* session to strengthen mitigation and adaptation action; and commits to reflecting recommendations on next steps from that dialogue in to COP26.

The SBSTA meeting in Bonn June 2020 is seen as the next key moment in more deeply integrating the ocean/climate nexus in both mitigation and adaptation measures.

“Dubbed the Blue COP by the Chilean Presidency, this year’s COP saw climate and ocean practitioners and advocates working together to highlight those linkages between the ocean and climate change. With the mandate now given to the Chair of the Convention’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) to make recommendations on this issue, everything points out to a growing swell of attention for the ocean in the context of climate change.” said  Rémi Parmentier, Secretary of Because the Ocean.

Such inclusion of the ocean in climate negotiations is important because of the ocean’s massive role within the climate system and planet, and the far-reaching consequences for humanity if that role is further eroded.

“Tackling climate breakdown and holding warming at, or close to 1.5 degrees Celsius is essential if the ecosystem services of the ocean to humankind are to survive.  We have so little time left to act” said Dan Laffoley, Marine Vice chair, IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas. “We need to pick up the pace dramatically across the board and must redouble efforts to cut CO2 emissions if we are to address and overcome the life changing challenges that clearly lie ahead for all of us.”


Notes

*About SBSTA https://unfccc.int/process/bodies/subsidiary-bodies/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.

About One Ocean: www.oceanprotect.org/about

Database of ocean spokespeople: www.oceanprotect.org/spokespeople

Media contact: Patricia Roy | France, Spain and EU | Tel. +34 696 905 907 | patricia@communicationsinc.co.uk


Additional quotes:

“In the final days of the Madrid climate conference, leaders must remember that ocean protection is climate action. The ocean is an integral part of the climate system, providing mitigation and adaptation. It is critical to all life on Earth. Don’t miss this prime opportunity in the final negotiations to make the ocean a vital component of the global climate emergency action plan.” –  Jay Richlin, Director General for Western Canada, David Suzuki Foundation

“Today’s leaders, with the exception of a few, are failing the people, failing the planet and failing the future. However, to despair is not an option. We must push our governments and businesses to do better! The EU’s pledge to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 is a welcome announcement but not enough. Countries must pledge to less than 1.5 degrees. At 2 degrees we lose Pacific Islands and coral reefs. Moreover, social justice and environmental justice must be addressed alongside emissions. The EU must ensure that the ambitions of the rest of the world are lifted quickly as they work to deliver on their own pledge.
Addressing the climate crisis means addressing the crisis unfolding in the ocean. The ocean makes up 70% of our planet, stabilises our climate and provides us with over half the oxygen we breathe. But rising greenhouse gas emissions, overfishing and pollution are killing the ocean’s ability to support life on earth, including ours. We can restore the ocean by ensuring that the United Nations agrees to a strong global treaty for life on the high seas in 2020, establishing a network of marine protected areas that follows the science and covers at least 30% of the ocean and finally ending overfishing.” – Farah Obaidullah, Founder Women4Oceans

Addressing the climate crisis means addressing the crisis unfolding in the ocean. The ocean makes up 70% of our planet, stabilises our climate and provides us with over half the oxygen we breathe. But rising greenhouse gas emissions, overfishing and pollution are killing the ocean’s ability to support life on earth, including ours. We can restore the ocean by ensuring that the United Nations agrees to a strong global treaty for life on the high seas in 2020, establishing a network of marine protected areas that follows the science and covers at least 30% of the ocean and finally ending overfishing.” – Farah Obaidullah, Founder Women4Oceans

“Even without any participation from the Trump White House, this year’s ocean-focused “Blue COP” garnered the support of leaders in the U.S. Congress who travelled to Madrid to let the world know that We Are Still In – and then followed up on this promise by passing legislation that will protect coastal communities from climate change. Other U.S. leaders are rolling out ocean-based climate solutions that range from protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030 to restoring blue carbon ecosystems to expanding offshore clean energy. Their work on ocean climate solutions is showing the way to a livable, sustainable future, despite the Trump White House’s refusal to act.” — Dr. Miriam Goldstein, Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress 

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