POLICY PAPER: To date, the international fight against climate change has largely overlooked the ocean-climate relationship. Yet the ocean and climate are inextricably linked. The ocean plays a central role regulating the climate, including by absorbing heat and carbon dioxide. This imposes a heavy cost through effects such as deoxygenation and acidification, which are decimating ocean ecosystems and damaging the communities that rely on them. At the same time, the ocean is a source of measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
A number of international summits are on the horizon, including the U.N. Secretary General’s Climate Summit in September 2019, Our Ocean in October 2019, and the meeting of the members of the Paris Agreement in December 2019. These provide opportunities for governments and stakeholders to ensure that the global climate effort protects the ocean and advances sustainable ocean-based climate solutions. A range of organizations—including Climate Advisers, NRDC, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, Ocean Conservancy, and Rare—therefore have created a blueprint for ocean-climate action.
This blueprint presents near-term steps that governments and stakeholders could take, from maximizing coastal blue carbon mitigation in their climate plans to targeting CO2 emissions in order to combat ocean acidification. It also presents medium-term and midcentury goals that governments and stakeholders could adopt to ensure a thriving ocean and climate.