Opportunities for increasing ocean action in climate strategies

The global ocean is warming, acidifying and losing oxygen, and sea level is rising. As a result, keystone species and ecosystems such as warm-water coral reefs, seagrass meadows and kelp forests will face high to very high risks by the end of this century even under low carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (IPCC, 2019). Moreover, low-lying coastal settlements will face moderate to high sea-level rise risks by the end of the century, even under full and timely implementation of the Paris Agreement, unless comprehensive and intense adaptation efforts are undertaken. This calls for a dramatic scaling up of efforts towards ambitious mitigation and adaptation.

The ocean offers opportunities to reduce the causes and consequences of climate change, globally and locally, as shown by The Ocean Solutions Initiative (Gattuso et al., 2018) and other recent reports (Hoegh-Guldberg et al., 2019; Because the Ocean 20192). However, countries have poorly used ocean-based measures for tackling climate change and its impacts, in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs; Gallo et al. 2017) under the Paris Agreement. The process towards the 5-year revision of NDCs, culminating at the 26th Conference of the Parties of UNFCCC, offers an opportunity for countries to adopt more ocean-inclusive mitigation and adaptation strategies.

In this Policy Brief we assess 18 ocean-based measures to support climate policies and the revision of NDCs in the areas of mitigation and adaptation. Ocean-related measures should not be considered as a substitute for climate mitigation on land, which must also be strongly pursued for the benefit of the atmosphere as well as the ocean.

Gattuso J.-P., Magnan A. K., Gallo N. D., Herr D., Rochette J., Vallejo L. & Williamson P., 2019. Opportunities for increasing ocean action in climate strategies. IDDRI. Report.

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