Because the Ocean : A high level call for an ambitious ocean outcome at COP26
"Protecting the Ocean is protecting the Climate"
On October 31, 2021, Opening Day of COP26, the Because the Ocean initiative launched its 3rd declaration spreading the resounding message that ocean protection is climate protection.
HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Chile’s Environment Minister and COP25 President Carolina Schmidt, Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna,, Belgium’s Minister of Climate, Environment, Sustainable Development and Green Deal Zakia Khattabi, together with Ministers and Ambassadors from Australia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Fiji, France, Indonesia, Ireland, Panama, Spain, Seychelles and Sweden, launched the 3rd Because the Ocean Declaration today at a special event at the University of Edinburgh.
The Declaration – described as “a plurilateral initiative in support of a multilateral ocean outcome at COP26” – calls for the adoption of a COP26 decision encouraging all Parties to the UN Climate Convention, to integrate ocean-climate-biodiversity linkages in their plans to implement the Paris Agreement, and to recognize the need for more ambition on all sides to tackle climate change and protect the ocean.
Signatories to the Declaration affirm that they will:
- strive for the acceleration of efforts to phase out greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping;
- further the development of clean offshore renewable energy sources, taking into account possible impacts on marine and coastal ecosystems;
- advocate for strengthening public and private sources of support for climate adaptation and mitigation in the ocean, including with multilateral development banks, climate funds, Official Development Assistance, and other international Financial Institutions; and
- work with the Intergovernemental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to meet these goals and foster the exchange of knowledge and good practice.
The ocean is often described as the engine room of the climate system and HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco today highlighted the essential role the ocean plays in climate regulation by absorbing more than 25% of CO2 emissions and 90% of the excess heat due to global warming. He also referenced the impacts on marine life caused by warming ocean waters, changes in ocean currents, and ocean acidification, as well as the effects of sea level rise on coastal environments, and the growing number of ocean-related extreme weather events.
The Sovereign Prince said, “We need to explore the role of the ocean fully and increase our knowledge of it. To develop conservation tools, to strengthen the resources employed to promote it, to improve its governance and to take greater account of ocean issues at all UN negotiations.”
Incredibly, despite the critical ocean-climate connection, it was not until COP25, held in Madrid in 2019 under the Chilean Presidency, that the integration of the ocean into the work of the UN Climate Convention really began. Now, out of the 120 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC’s) submitted ahead of COP26, in accordance with the Paris Agreement, 80 make reference to ocean action, leading COP25 President Carolina Schmidt to announce today, after handing over the COP Presidency to the UK, that “from now on, the COP is blue, and all COPs will remain blue”.
Today’s launch of the 3rd Because the Ocean Declaration is just the beginning as more countries are expected to join the initiative throughout COP26.