Newswise — Woods Hole, Mass. (November 20, 2023) — Ocean Pavilion partners at COP28 and related stakeholders are calling on world leaders to recognize the ocean's importance to climate and support efforts to expand and improve ocean observation around the world. including expansion of coverage in the regions under observation. COP28 Dubai Ocean Declaration Ahead of the annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) to be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 30 November – 12 December, highlighting the need for ocean science and observations as critical. To understand ongoing changes in global climate.
The ocean plays a critical role in regulating the Earth's climate and absorbs more than 90% of excess heat and nearly 30% of excess carbon dioxide caused by human activities. The consequences of these changes include extreme weather events, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, coral reef mortality, and the growth of low-oxygen zones. However, international investment in ocean observing systems has not met the need for critical information in decision-making. As a result, a central theme of the COP28 Dubai Ocean Declaration is a call for world leaders to “support and encourage efforts to significantly expand and improve ocean observations worldwide.”
As the planet continues on a path to exceed pre-industrial temperatures of 1.5°C, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that society may need to reduce emissions by removing atmospheric carbon dioxide to meet the targets set in the Paris Agreement. 2021 report The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that natural ocean processes can help, but accelerated research is needed to assess the benefits, risks, and responsible scaling of the most promising ocean-based carbon removal strategies.
The COP28 Dubai Ocean Declaration calls on parties to the UN climate conference to take measures that strengthen ocean protection and includes several key points in the two-week talks. According to the declaration, “As the largest, most dynamic carbon reservoir in the Earth's climate system, the ocean can and must play a central role in achieving net negative emissions and achieving the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. As a critical part of other life-sustaining planetary processes, the ocean must also be protected from ongoing anthropogenic changes, including climate mitigation efforts, and especially as the rapidly changing Earth system becomes less predictable.
The declaration underscores the call for drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and immediate concrete efforts to halt other human-caused harm to the ocean, such as overfishing, habitat destruction and marine pollution, in addition to advancing ocean-based solutions.
“The most urgent priority is to dramatically reduce carbon emissions over the next decade,” said Peter de Menocal, president and director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a co-signatory of the declaration. “At the same time, we need to explore ways to remove emissions from the atmosphere in order to meet the targets set out in the Paris Agreement.” The ocean represents a viable, scalable opportunity for carbon dioxide removal. But independent science must lead, and this calls for a new era of collaborative, international ocean observation to track changes in ocean carbon fluxes, ecosystem health, and monitor the vital signs of the vast and rapidly changing ocean on which we all depend.
Specific efforts outlined in the COP28 Dubai Ocean Declaration include:
- Improve global stock assessments and measures of progress toward the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement by providing better measures of ocean carbon flux and a more complete view of the Earth's ocean-climate system.
- Implement strong, collaborative environmental monitoring, reporting, and verification of new and emerging ocean-based carbon removal strategies to ensure measurable progress toward net negative emissions while also protecting critical ocean ecosystems.
- Expand observational capabilities to measure the widest possible set of essential climate and biological variables to better understand and address climate change impacts on ocean life distribution, marine ecosystem health, biomass and biodiversity.
- Build capacity among island nations and developing countries and refine methods to account for natural ocean functions and blue economy contributions to climate stabilization through Nationally Determined Contributions and National Adaptation Plans.
“We must expand our ocean observing systems to fully understand climate impacts and build a more resilient society,” said Margaret Leinen, UC San Diego vice chancellor for marine sciences and director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “According to this declaration, we want the COP28 negotiators to prioritize supporting ocean observations like Argo and other technologies that give us a complete picture of what's happening below the surface, including changes in ocean ecosystems, and invest in small island development in the countries. The frontline of climate change, where critical ocean data can be greatly expanded. ”
More than 45 international ocean scientific, policy and philanthropic organizations have signed the COP28 Dubai Ocean Declaration to date.
Ocean Pavilion There is a dedicated space in the Blue Zone at COP28, which returns for a second year to bring the ocean center stage at a crucial time in international climate negotiations. The pavilion brings together diverse and influential partners who are calling for ocean-focused solutions to be recognized as critical to the global response to the climate crisis. During the two-week conference, the pavilion will feature more than 80 events, meetings and in-depth discussions in the 60-seat main theater, as well as an additional three dozen videos in the separate Immersion Theater, all of which are discussed in detail. set Conference topics, including rising seas, climate and living oceans, and blue economy and finance. Visitors will also be able to learn more about the work of Ocean Pavilion partners and talk to scientists, thought leaders and students engaged in finding solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges.
About Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) is a private, non-profit organization in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, dedicated to marine research, engineering and higher education. Founded in 1930, its mission is to understand the ocean and its interactions with the Earth as a whole, and to provide an understanding of the ocean's role in a changing global environment. WHOI's pioneering discoveries stem from an ideal combination of science and engineering that has made it one of the most trusted and technically advanced leaders in fundamental and applied ocean research and exploration. WHOI is known for its multidisciplinary approach, superior vessel operations and unmatched deep-sea robotic capabilities. We play a leading role in ocean observation and operate the most comprehensive suite of ocean data collection platforms in the world. The best scientists, engineers and students collaborate on more than 800 simultaneous projects around the world – both above and below the waves – pushing the boundaries of knowledge to inform people and policy for a healthy planet. Learn more at whoi.edu.
About the UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography: The Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego is one of the world's most important centers for global Earth science research and education. In its second century of discovery, Scripps scientists work to understand and protect the planet and explore our oceans, Earth and atmosphere to find solutions to our greatest environmental challenges. Scripps offers unparalleled education and training for the next generation of scientific and environmental leaders through undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs. The facility also operates a fleet of four oceanographic research vessels and is home to the Beach Aquarium at Scripps, a public exploration center that receives 500,000 visitors annually.