Got a Place for Oceans?

5 December 2019

There is no debating the critical importance of the ocean in the climate change debate. In terms of chemistry, thermodynamics, economics, geography, food security – the list goes on. And in return, the ocean impacts all our efforts towards meeting the Paris Agreement goals whether it is mitigation or adaptation. The ocean is the big blue pool that connects all Parties, including the land-locked nations, to this issue. 

So, it is no surprise that there is an unrelenting effort by the ocean champions to find a place and a process for the biggest ecosystem on our planet within the Paris Agreement, against the strong currents of narrowing space and appetite for any broadening of scope. 

Of course, it is no small feat to find a simple space for the big blue, that covers such a huge area with a vast range of links to climate change.

It is both timely and apt that this Chilean COP in Madrid is dubbed the “Blue” COP. 

Just a few months ago, the IPCC published a Special Report on Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. It spoke to the severity of the situation we are already in, and where we will find ourselves without deep decarbonization, that is in line with the 1.5„ƒ goal. The science clearly projects a worsening state of our planet and severe impacts on us all, as well as highlighting the big uncertainties of abrupt or irreversible changes. 

On the eve of 2020, this COP is a fantastic opportunity to realize interconnected actions that can be realized by looking at the world through the ocean. Next year is not only decisive for our collective action on climate change, it is also a critical year to protect the oceans through the UN Oceans Treaty negotiations and the CBD 2030 goal setting. 

There are already many suggestions and solutions, which is why the Chilean Presidency launched the Platform for Science-Based Ocean Solutions (PSBOS). And there is an overwhelming amount of policy-relevant science and many pages of reports. 

It’s clear that the quest for the right process and content (based on science) for the ocean in the Paris Agreement will continue. But after three days of political rhetoric about the importance of oceans in this Blue COP, one must wonder, what is the true legacy of action for the ocean at COP25? 

How can we make the Blue COP be truly Blue? ECO has a hint for you: it’s not by creating new markets for the ocean’s “ecosystem services.”

One answer is as clear as the crystal-clear Caribbean waters: Urgent enhancement of climate action targets through enhancing NDCs as early as possible. That’s climate justice and that’s ocean protection.

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