Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Ocean Recognition Still Missing From Commitments

A range of new initiatives have been announced in support of energy solutions and forests during the course of the last 48 hours.

Bill Gates launched the "Breakthrough Energy Coalition" supported by 30 leading Chief Executives and investors who will invest funds in technologies that reduce demand for fossil fuels and use their influence to help jumpstart demand for and availability of green energy sources.

They will pour money into early-stage startups that promise to provide "everyone with affordable, reliable energy" that produces zero carbon emissions and support government-backed green energy research.

It is the kind of initiative that Torsten Thiele of the Global Ocean Trust says, is needed for the ocean. “The services provided by the ocean in terms of climate mitigation and climate solutions are vastly under-recognized.  An injection of funds and recognition for the role of the ocean in preserving life on Earth and the need to protect it from climate impacts, would be a game-changer, providing returns to investors while at the same time safeguarding the most vulnerable States and people from sea-level rise.”

The need for action on forests was repeated often in Leader’s speeches on Monday.  Sixteen countries recommitted to provide strong, collective and urgent action to slow, halt and reverse deforestation and massively increase forest restoration.

This commitment includes the aim by some European countries to provide funding in the region $5 billion from 2015 to 2020, if forest countries demonstrate measured, reported and verified emission reductions. 

Once again this is an important step for the forests, albeit falling far short of what experts say is required, but still amounting to quantifiable commitments for this part of the Earth System.  Professor Dan Laffoley vice chair IUCN WCPA – marine argues that at the very least we need the same for the ocean. “Over 90% of the extra heat created by CO2 emissions has been absorbed by the ocean along with a quarter of the carbon dioxide. No other system on Earth does as much for us in climate change mitigation and we have to protect the ocean’s ability to continue doing so. This is not an either or situation – we need all the systems of the Earth to be factored into our climate change response”.

A financial commitment of an additional $248 million for vulnerable countries was also made via the Less Developed Countries Fund. The focus of the money is for adaptation, but no express commitment was made to marine carbon sinks such as mangroves and seagrass or to blue carbon as mitigation.