Overlooked ocean strategies to address climate change


• Paris Agreement Parties have largely overlooked the ocean-climate relationship.

• Ocean impacts, mitigation, adaptation must be included in climate mitigation.

• Four ocean-climate linkages suggest specific responses by Parties.

• These linkages inform a systematic approach to ocean issues under the Agreement.


The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC’s) Paris Agreement—which aims to limit climate change and increase global resilience to its effects—was a breakthrough in climate diplomacy, committing its Parties to develop and update national climate plans. Yet the Parties to the Agreement have largely overlooked the effect of climate change on ocean-based communities, economies, and ecosystems—as well as the role that the ocean can play in mitigating and adapting to climate change. Because the ocean is an integral part of the climate system, stronger inclusion of ocean issues is critical to achieving the Agreement’s goals. Here we discuss four ocean-climate linkages that suggest specific responses by Parties to the Agreement connected to 1) accelerating climate ambition, including via sustainable ocean-based mitigation strategies; 2) focusing on CO2 emissions to address ocean acidification; 3) better understanding ocean-based mitigation; and 4) pursuing ocean-based adaptation. These linkages offer a more complete perspective on the reasons strong climate action is necessary and inform a systematic approach for addressing ocean issues under the Agreement to strengthen climate mitigation and adaptation.

Cooley S. R., Bello B., Bodansky D., Mansell A., Merkl A., Purvis N., Ruffo S., Taraska G., Zivian A. & Leonard G. H., 2019. Overlooked ocean strategies to address climate change. Global Environmental Change 59: 101968. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2019.101968. Article.

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