Ocean Optimism: A To-Do List of Possible Climate Solutions

The IPCC Oceans report released on Wednesday painted a dire picture of the health of the ocean today.  The ocean is a carbon sponge and has absorbed 93% of the excess heat caused by climate change and it is reaching a breaking point according to the IPCC.  But another panel that was formed last year — the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (HLP) made up of 14 serving heads of government — is committed to sparking “bold, pragmatic solutions for ocean health and wealth that support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and build a better future for people and the planet.”  They also issued a report this week — and it provides a roadmap to reducing global GHG emissions by up to 4 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2030 and by up to 11 billion tons in 2050, which would reduce emissions by as much as 21% of the emission reduction required in 2050 to limit warming to 1.5°C and 25% for a 2°C target. The authors provide:

“a ‘no-regrets to-do list’ of ocean-based climate actions that could be set in motion today. We highlight the report’s analysis of the mitigation potential and the required research, technology, and policy developments for five ocean-based mitigation areas of action: renewable energy; shipping and transport; protection and restoration of coastal and marine ecosystems; fisheries, aquaculture, and shifting diets; and carbon storage in the seabed (see the figure). Make no mistake: These actions are ambitious, but we argue that they are necessary, could pay major dividends toward closing the emissions gap in coming decades, and achieve other co-benefits along the way.”

The panel concluded that the idea of carbon storage in the seabed needed further work but that the other four “have substantial mitigation potential” and “could be implemented or initiated with the right policies, incentives, and guidance” right away.

Worth The Time:  Here is a link to a blog about the Report, and a link to an article discussing it in the Journal Science.

To Go Deeper:  You can download the entire report here.

H/T to Jerry M for helping me (Monica) get the carbon sponge stats right!

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