Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ocean Reaction to Draft Text at COP21

Ocean experts at the Paris climate talks are expressing mixed reaction to the draft outcome text published Wednesday, urging governments to keep working to ensure that the role of the ocean in climate change mitigation and adaptation is robustly reflected.

The French government released a  ‘clean’ draft of the final agreement at 1500hrs CET which sees the original 48 page document slimmed down to 29 pages, with many brackets remaining where wording is not nailed down.

The text mentions the ocean for the first time in the preamble to the Agreement; the preamble is not legally binding.  Additional paragraphs refer to the need to enhance greenhouse gas (GHG) sinks to help absorb CO2 emissions, and to foster ecosystem integrity, wording which can be taken to refer to coastal and ocean ecosystems as well as land-based ones.

A broad coalition of ocean campaigners from the fields of science, policy and finance have been prominent at this CoP calling for greater profile of ocean issues within climate commitments.

Climate finance expert Torsten Thiele, of the Global Ocean Trust, said “I see this draft as a case of “the glass is half full”.  We got ocean in the substance and also "symbolically" in the preamble of the draft. This is good news but we need to encourage the negotiators to continue to work to get to an ambitious agreement without the brackets.”

In order to limit further damage to the ocean in terms of acidification and warming from climate change and in terms of protecting the most vulnerable people, the Agreement must commit to a time-limited target of at least 1.5 degrees. Arni Finnsson of Iceland Nature Conservation Association said: “A 1.5 degree goal is our best shot at stopping ocean acidification, preserving important habitats such as coral reefs and helping to protect the most vulnerable Island communities.”