The crisis of climate change is deeply entwined with the ocean but in most of the international climate talks this fact has been greatly neglected. For the first time international climate negotiations made some progress in including anchoring oceans into the multilateral climate change regime.
Most countries have their targets for land-based emissions and there is no such ocean-based target in the countries. Though ocean plays vital role in balancing the conditions for the survival of human and other species. Oceans also help to reduce the global temperature by 1.5℃.
The potential of oceans
the ocean has absorbed 93% of human-generated heat and one-third of carbon dioxide, since the time of industrialisation. This has caused the thermal expansion of water, ocean acidification, oxygen loss and forcing sea species to find another shelter.
But, sooner or later the absorption ability of the ocean will decline and it will release the absorbed CO₂ back into the atmosphere.
Ocean-based climate mitigation is also very important as it helps in reducing 20% of the carbon emission.
The maritime industries and its decarbonisation of shipping don’t have adequate targets but this industry alone emit carbon more than any country in the world.
Oceans can also provide us with a new climate-safe, sustainable food choice. As our current food system like emissions-intensive agriculture, fishing, and processed foods are responsible carbon emission. But we can have considerable health and environment benefits if we switch to sustainable “blue foods.”
This new diet includes consuming sea foods from fisheries with sustainable management practices. We should also consume aquatic plants such as seagrasses.
The greatest emission reduction will come from adopting offshore renewable energy. This process has the ability to reduce one-tenth of the global carbon emission.
Discussions are making slow-progress
In COP26, world leaders have focused on coastal areas to adapt to climate change impacts such as sea-level rise.
But the final COP26 agreement has recognised the importance of ensuring the ocean ecosystem’s integrity. But the discussion at the final COP26 was theory based and not action-oriented.
The COP26 tried to bring ocean impacts and mitigation into mainstream climate agenda.