This year’s COP offers a particularly historic opportunity to correct our course on climate change with the inaugural Global Stocktake—a comprehensive assessment of global efforts to address climate change. A major focus of COP28 will be how countries utilize the findings of the report to limit global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
The recent Ocean Panel report illustrates the role that the ocean can play in policy—finding that climate solutions from the ocean could deliver up to 35% of the annual emission cuts needed by 2050 to keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C.
While the ocean offers a critical opportunity area for climate action, 2023 has seen the hottest temperatures ever recorded in the seas as the effects of climate change continue to intensify. The need to take urgent measures to protect the ocean from climate change has never been more pressing. Through activist panels and diplomatic plenaries, scientific symposiums and pleas for policy changes, the discussions and agreements reached at COP28 target the health of our oceans and it’s affects communities worldwide.
COP28 aims to address the escalating threats posed by rising sea levels, a consequence of global warming. Coastal communities worldwide are facing increased vulnerability, with the potential for displacement and loss of habitats—particularly in the small island nation-states of the Pacific (PSIDS). Delegates will deliberate on adaptation strategies, resilient infrastructure, and international cooperation to mitigate the impacts on these frontline regions.
Negotiators from coastal countries are acutely aware of the threats posed by ocean acidification and coral bleaching. These phenomena not only endanger marine ecosystems but also jeopardize the fisheries and tourism industries. Discussions at COP28 will explore innovative solutions, conservation measures, and sustainable practices to protect coral reefs and marine biodiversity.
The overexploitation of fisheries has far-reaching consequences for both marine ecosystems and global food security. COP28 provides an opportunity to deliberate on sustainable fisheries management and responsible aquaculture practices. Delegates will explore policies that balance economic interests with environmental conservation, ensuring the longevity of marine resources and the food security and livelihoods of coastal communities worldwide.
The pervasive issue of plastic pollution in our oceans remains a top priority at COP28. Delegates will discuss the implications of ocean pollution, as well as policies to reduce single-use plastics, promote recycling, and clean up existing marine debris.
Climate conversations will focus on the potential of the blue economy as a sustainable pathway for economic growth. Delegates and oceanographers alike will explore the opportunities for harnessing renewable energy from the oceans—such as tidal and wave power—as well as decarbonizing maritime transport and opportunities to invest in blue carbon ecosystems like mangroves and salt marshes to sequester massive amounts of carbon dioxide.
Despite talks being held in the Middle East, the ocean will be a key conversation topic for climate delegates. Investment in our oceans is paramount for a more sustainable future—and agreements made at the conference will set the stage for the upcoming UN Ocean Conference, scheduled in France in 2025, which will include its own stocktaking of progress laid out by the UN Ocean Decade initiative.
While it remains to be seen, the conference has repeatedly emphasized that it will prioritize inclusivity. By including voices from Indigenous communities and Pacific Island Nations that live in harmony with the ocean, and balancing insights from scientific experts, the outcomes from the conference will prioritize all ocean stakeholders’ best interests for the sake of the planet.
Get the best content and best stories
in your inbox every day!