Paris - The Oceans were front and centre of the climate debate this week at the COP21 climate talks in Paris. Special events both inside and outside of the main negotiation zone highlighted the crucial role played by the world’s seas in regulating our climate and mitigating the effect our greenhouse gas emissions are having.
The effect of climate change and other human driven environmental issues are having on the ocean’s natural regulatory systems, such as ocean acidification and rising temperatures were also discussed, with a view to informing delegates and decision makers on what is at stake for the world’s marine environments should we fail to agree an effective deal.
Events at the COP21 talks were held in the side ‘Generation climate’ space, which was open to the general public. This public ‘Oceans Day’ was organised by the Global Ocean Forum, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission/UNESCO, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Ocean and Climate Platform, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (Japan), and the University of Delaware, along with 40 other collaborative organisations. A summary of the key issues at stake is available here.
Seas At Risk member organisation Surfrider Foundation was active as part of the Oceans and Climate Platform in arranging one of the key mobilisations at the climate talks, the #OceanForClimate days. These sought to inform and activate citizens in pushing their politicians to act at the talks to protect our seas from climate change. The Platform also organised the Climate and Ocean Forum, opened by French Environment Minister Ségolène Royal, a series of talks and information sessions with questions and answers that featured some of the biggest names in ocean protection. You can watch back the entire event at the Platform’s web page here.
Meanwhile, the team at Oceans.inc have been working hard to bring all these actions and events to a wider audience by creating recordings of the multitudinous events and interviews with the key players, all of which are available at their site.
Seas At Risk meanwhile has been very much focused on the transport side of oceans at the talks. As part of the Clean Shipping Coalition, we are working with allies to push for the inclusion of shipping (and aviation) emissions in a final climate deal. If the world is to limit warming to a safer 1.5 degree limit, the capping of their projected rise in contributions to global emissions will be essential.
Whatever the outcome of these talks, the Oceans have been placed where they belong – firmly at the centre of the climate debate.