The ocean, notably absent from negotiations despite playing a major role in climate regulation, must be taken into account in the future United Nations global climate regime.
The ocean endures climate change in silence. Life there has been disrupted and is at risk of disappearing little by little. We should never forget that Life on Earth began in this same ocean. The climate system needs an ocean that is healthy and full of life to function properly.
From plankton to the blue whale, ocean life not only produces a large amount of the planet’s oxygen, even more than the world’s forests, it also absorbs a quarter of the CO2 released into the atmosphere by human activity every year. Furthermore, marine and nearshore ecosystems play an important role as they protect coastal regions and provide food for a substantial part of the world’s population.
Unfortunately, climate change and the increase in greenhouse gas emissions linked to human activity have considerable effects on the ocean: warming, acidification, melting of the ice caps, changes in currents, rising sea levels, and so on. These effects threaten not only marine ecosystems on a long-term basis, but also the ocean’s ability to regulate the climate and safeguard the future of the planet and humankind.
It is absolutely imperative that we reach a far-reaching agreement on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21).
It is equally necessary that the ocean – which covers two thirds of the world’s surface area – is explicitly integrated into future global climate regime in order to:
1. Heighten the ocean’s capacity to mitigate climate change, through protected and functioning marine ecosystems able to capture CO2,
2. Address the adaptation challenges faced by coastal and nearshore regions, island countries often being the most vulnerable,
3. Integrate projects related to sustainable management and the conservation of marine and coastal biodiversity into climate finance mechanisms, in particular those projects that concern protected marine areas,
4. Develop innovative solutions in energy, food and maritime transport industries,
5. Continue to invest in scientific research in order to better understand ocean-climate interactions and consequently influence political action.
Together, let’s give the ocean a voice.