12 Years Left

11 December 2018

Today, the political phase of the Talanoa Dialogue begins, starting with Ministerial Roundtables. ECO is looking forward to hearing Ministers tell stories from the real world – sharing views on the significance of the IPCC special report on 1.5o (SR1.5) and how this COP needs to respond.

In honour of the Oceans Action Day, which took place this past weekend, ECO thought it would highlight one such story about the real world of marine ecosystems and the difference between 1.5o and 2oC of warming. Brace yourself, dear ECO readers, as it is a grim one. At 2oC, coral reefs will likely be annihilated. Gone. Toasted. Wiped out of existence. At 1.5o, enough of the reefs may survive so that they can be rehabilitated and brought back to health. Even with the current level of warming, a substantial proportion of coral reefs have experienced large-scale mortalities that are causing them to contract rapidly. In the last three years alone, large coral reef systems such as the Great Barrier Reef (Australia) have lost as much as 50 percent of their shallow-water corals.

The value of coral reefs cannot be overstated. Coral- dominated reefs are found between latitudes 30°S and 30°N along coastlines where they provide habitats for over a million species. They also provide food, income, coastal protection, cultural context, and many other services for millions of people along tropical coastal areas. As corals disappear, so do fish stocks, and many other reef-dependent species €” directly impacting industries such as tourism and fisheries, as well as coastal livelihoods for many, often disadvantaged, people. These impacts are exacerbated by increasingly intense storms and by ocean acidification which can weaken coral skeletons, contribute to disease, and slow the recovery of coral communities after mortality events.

ECO suggests that it is crystal clear what countries should announce in the high-level Talanoa Roundtables €” namely, their intentions to review and enhance their national climate ambition by 2020. Here are just some helpful examples:

  • Commit to strengthening mitigation efforts (both pre-2020 action and NDCs)
  • Reaffirm your commitment to develop or revise mid-century net zero development strategies by 2020 at the latest
  • Send a clear signal to the world as to the level of ambition needed, the figures from the IPCC SR1.5 for the 1.5C global CO2 emissions pathway (45% below 2010 levels by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050) must also be reflected in the decision text
  • Announce and decide to initiate domestic processes to strengthen NDCs

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