Original imagery and post by Ellie White for Ocean Generation.
When we think of climate talks and the environment, we commonly think about terrestrial sources of emissions and sinks, like the Amazon rainforest. However, our Ocean and its coastal regions, provide a long list of alternative mitigation options.
The role our Ocean plays
Our Ocean plays a fundamental role in regulating global temperatures. The Ocean absorb 93% of the heat trapped by rising CO2. It also absorbs roughly 25-30% of CO2 emissions, that would otherwise remain in the atmosphere and increase global warming. It also produces around 50% of the oxygen on the planet – that means the Ocean produces every second breath we take!
However, the roles our Ocean plays in mitigating the climate crisis is under threat, as we saw in the IPCC report. When the Ocean does so much for us, why is it not higher up in the agenda for COP26?
Actions to protect the Ocean at COP26 is vitally important.
What Ocean solutions need to happen?
During COP26, these are the top 5 Ocean solutions that need an action plan rolled out:
1 – Ocean-based renewable energy, including offshore wind and other energy sources, such as wave and tidal power. This could cut up to 5.4 billion tonnes of global annual CO2 emissions by 2050. To put this amount into perspective, 1 gigaton is equivalent to the mass of 5.5 million blue whales!
2 – Decarbonising domestic and international shipping and transport – this could cut up 1.8 billion tonnes of global annual CO2 emissions by 2050.
3- Protecting blue carbon through coastal and marine ecosystems. For example, the protection and restoration of mangroves, salt marshes, seagrass beds, and seaweed farms. This could avoid and remove up to 1 billion tonnes of global annual CO2 emissions by 2050.
4- Fisheries, aquaculture (controlled farmed fishing), and dietary shifts away from land-based protein sources, such as red meat, that produces a lot of emission to low carbon Ocean-based protein and other sources of nutrition. By implementing this, it could reduce up to 1.2 tonnes of global annual CO2 emissions by 2050.
5- Storage of carbon in seabed, such as carbon capture from transport, power plants and bottom trawling. By controlling these areas, it could lead to roughly 2 billion tonnes of global annual CO2 emissions by 2050.
Creating action plans and investment in these 5 areas is critical. As it stands, only 3% of UK investment is put into nature-based solutions to mitigate the climate crisis.
We need more of a commitment and a plan set out by nations to protect our Ocean.