Countries, Organizations Respond to Call to Ocean-Based Climate Action
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The High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy called for actions in six areas: investing in nature-based climate solutions; harnessing ocean-based renewable energy; decarbonizing ocean industries; securing sustainable food for the future; advancing the deployment of carbon capture and storage; and expanding ocean observation and research.

In response to the Call to Ocean-Climate Action, Panel members and organizations announced early action and ocean climate commitments.

26 September 2019: Members of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy issued an urgent ‘Call to Ocean-Based Climate Action’, to inspire political commitments, business partnerships and investments to scale up and accelerate action in six key areas. Panel members announced early action and ocean-climate commitments, including commitments related to marine renewable energy, sustainable fisheries management, and ocean decarbonization.

The High Level Panel issued the Call to Ocean-Based Climate Action in response to the findings of their report, titled ‘The Ocean as a Solution to Climate Change: Five Opportunities for Action.’ The report assesses the mitigation potential of ocean-based activities in five areas: renewable energy, ocean-based transport, food production, coastal and marine ecosystems, and carbon storage in the seabed. The report estimates that ocean-based mitigation options have the potential to reduce the emissions gap by up to 21% on a 1.5°C pathway and by approximately 25% on a 2°C degree pathway, by 2050.

To help achieve the Paris Agreement on climate change and the SDGs, the Panel urges all actors to join them in accelerating progress on the following ocean-based climate actions:

Invest in nature-based climate solutions: restore, protect and manage coastal and marine ecosystems, including mangroves, seagrasses, saltmarshes, reefs and macroalgae to enhance their ability to sequester and store carbon, adapt to climate change and improve coastal resilience; and apply ecosystem-based management tools, including the establishment and management of climate smart marine protected areas (MPAs) and development of innovative financial instruments;

Harness ocean-based renewable energy: scale up offshore and ocean-based renewable energy to become cost-competitive and meet future energy demand and;

Decarbonize ocean industries: invest in solutions to support rapid decarbonization of ocean industries, including fisheries, aquaculture and tourism, and shipping and marine transport;

Secure sustainable food for the future: promote sustainable, resilience, low-carbon, safe and equitable sources of food through the ocean to feed and improve the nutrition of present and future generations;

Advance the deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS): reduce barriers for CCS below the seabed and mapping the storage potential of the sub-seabed geological formations; and

Expand ocean observation and research: scale up support for integrated local-to-global observation and research to improve understanding on the observed and projected impacts of climate change, warming and acidification on the ocean and the role of the ocean in the global carbon cycle; and ensure data is relevant and accessible.

Commitments

Panel members announced a number of ocean climate commitments. Australia is investing AUD$70 million in the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Center, a 10-year $329 million collaboration between Australian and international partners to develop innovative and sustainable offshore industries to increase Australian seafood and marine renewable energy production. Portugal committed to produce 10% of its electricity by floating offshore wind and wave energy by 2030. Japan aims to promote early commercialization of marine renewable energy through demonstration projects.

To reduce carbon emissions, Norway committed to halve its emissions from domestic shipping and fishing vessels by 2030. Five Pacific countries committed to making the shipping sector 100% carbon-free by 2050. Kenya will incorporate blue carbon ecosystems into its nationally determined contribution (NDC), with the support of The Pew Charitable Trust. The Pew Charitable Trust launched a three-year initiative to support countries in incorporating coral reefs and coastal wetlands into their NDCs under the Paris Agreement. [SDG Knowledge Hub story decarbonizing the shipping industry]

The Getting to Zero Coalition aims to accelerate deployment of commercially viable deep-sea zero emission vessels by 2030, supported by the necessary infrastructure for scalable zero-carbon energy sources. Johannah Christensen, Managing Director, Global Maritime Forum, a partner of the Getting to Zero Coalition, said the Forum supports the Call to Action and agrees that thefull phaseout of GHG emissions from shipping will only be possible with the introduction of zero-carbon fuels.”

Ørsted and Equinor, two offshore renewable energy companies, announced an industry-led coalition to scale up ocean-based renewable energy in support of the Paris Agreement. Benj Sykes, Vice President at Orsted and leading on the Coalition for Action for offshore renewable energy, highlighted the report’s finding that “ocean renewable energy, and in particular offshore wind energy, has a huge potential to help mitigate climate change.” Sykes said the coalition will coordinate action to “unlock the full potential of ocean renewable energy” and will present a roadmap for action at the UN Ocean Conference in June 2020.

The SeaBOS Initiative, representing ten of the largest seafood companies in the world, operating in wild capture fisheries, aquaculture, and feeds, will accelerate efforts to secure sustainable food from the ocean, including by enhancing sustainable fisheries management and identifying opportunities to adapt to climate change impacts on seafood production. SeaBOS Chairman, Shigeru Ito, who is also CEO of Maruha Nichiro Corporation, said SeaBOS members “recognize the positive benefits that eating more sustainably produced seafood can have at lowering the global food carbon footprint” and will work to identify science-based solutions to increase sustainable seafood production and improve ocean health overall.

Panel members call for other countries and organizations to join them in committing to cohesive and accelerated ocean action at upcoming events, including the UN Climate Conference, the UN Ocean Conference, the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030). [Publication: The Ocean as a Solution to Climate Change: Five Opportunities for Action] [Panel Webpage] [WRI Press Release] [Call to Ocean-Based Climate Action] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on High Level Panel Report]


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