This is how to speed up ocean-climate ambition towards COP26

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Sanda Ojiambo, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact

  • Leading up to COP26, bold government policies and private sector leadership must reinforce each other to step up climate action.
  • Visionary private sector leaders are joining the Race to Zero and setting bold net-zero targets by signing the Business Ambition for 1.5°C commitment.
  • Governments can also lead with sustainable ocean management plans and incorporate ocean-based climate solutions in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).

The ocean is vital to the well-being and prosperity of humankind. Ocean health is inextricably linked to planetary health and is a fundamental precondition to achieving all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals. The ocean has buffered the worst impacts of climate change by absorbing 93% of the heat trapped by rising greenhouse gas emissions and up to 30% of carbon emissions, at the expense of significantly deteriorated ocean health.

The ocean is not only a victim of climate change – it provides solutions too. Ocean-based climate solutions could reduce the emissions gap by up to 21% to keep temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C by 2050, and the ocean’s critical role in climate change mitigation and adaptation are integral to this year’s COP26 considerations. In the global transition to a net-zero economy, low-carbon maritime transport and sustainable seafood, offshore renewable energy and nature-based ocean solutions represent key enablers.

To scale up collective global efforts to deliver on these ocean-based climate solutions, we need a positive “ambition loop” in which bold Government policies and private sector leadership reinforce each other to take climate action to the next level. Accelerated private sector action towards a net-zero economy has sent a strong signal to Governments, who can, in turn, amplify this private sector leadership with policies to provide companies with the clarity and confidence they need to catalyse further investments towards climate solutions.

Visionary private sector leaders are setting bold net-zero targets by signing the Business Ambition for 1.5°C commitment. These leading companies are demonstrating to Governments the viability of a 1.5°C-compliant strategy and scalable business solutions to support a systemic transformation. These companies are recognized as part of the critical Race to Zero.

The UN Global Compact supports and encourages companies to deliver the High Level Climate Champions’ target for the ocean: reducing their GHG emissions, while also publicly reporting actions taken to protect and restore blue carbon ecosystems, in order to reverse their loss by 2030. Biodiversity is critical to climate crisis solutions, as we still need to draw down excess carbon in the atmosphere. Reversing the loss of the blue carbon ecosystem, namely salt marshes, mangroves and seagrasses, will be an essential part of global efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

People feel governments are not doing enough to address these challenges by the target date of 2030. Image: World Economic Forum-Ipsos

These ecosystems sequester and store more carbon per unit area than terrestrial forests, which make them significant net carbon sinks. Marine natural ecosystems can also help safeguard coastal cities, communities and businesses from a changing climate. Recognizing that climate resilience is fundamental to a company’s ability to thrive in the future, companies can showcase their commitment by joining the Race to Resilience.

Companies are also endorsing the UN Global Compact Sustainable Ocean Principles. Building upon the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, the Sustainable Ocean Principles provide a framework for responsible business practices in the ocean across sectors and geographies. This includes committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in operations to prevent ocean warming and acidification. Many of the leading ocean-related companies have already signed on, including A.P. Møller – Mærsk, Lloyd’s Register, and Cermaq.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about the ocean?

Our ocean covers 70% of the world’s surface and accounts for 80% of the planet’s biodiversity. We can’t have a healthy future without a healthy ocean – but it’s more vulnerable than ever because of climate change and pollution.

Tackling the grave threats to our ocean means working with leaders across sectors, from business to government to academia.

The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with the World Resources Institute, convenes the Friends of Ocean Action, a coalition of leaders working together to protect the seas. From a programme with the Indonesian government to cut plastic waste entering the sea to a global plan to track illegal fishing, the Friends are pushing for new solutions.

Climate change is an inextricable part of the threat to our oceans, with rising temperatures and acidification disrupting fragile ecosystems. The Forum runs a number of initiatives to support the shift to a low-carbon economy, including hosting the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, who have cut emissions in their companies by 9%.

Is your organization interested in working with the World Economic Forum? Find out more here.

Governments can amplify this private sector leadership by committing to a sustainable ocean management plan. Already, the 14 Heads of State comprising the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy have committed ‘to sustainably manage 100% of the ocean area under their national jurisdiction, guided by Sustainable Ocean Plans, by 2025’.

These leaders recognize that a sustainable, equitable and well-managed ocean is essential to deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A well-managed ocean can sustainably provide the growing population with food, energy, transport and other opportunities for economic growth to benefit all of society, and in particular coastal communities. By providing a predictable environment for ocean businesses to innovate and grow, ocean management plans can mainstream investment in sustainable ocean industries.

While there are encouraging trends, there is still a significant ambition gap to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda, and the ocean will be a key lever. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) Synthesis Report published earlier this year showed that current commitments are not nearly ambitious enough to keep global warming below 1.5C. To close the ambition gap, ocean-climate solutions can contribute to Governments setting and delivering on more ambitious goals and should therefore be increasingly recognized in NDCs.

The private sector is making significant progress. Efforts must be scaled up and translated into country-level action through collaboration with Governments, NGOs and United Nations partners. The UN Global Compact is leveraging this progress to further catalyse the ocean-climate ambition loop towards a successful COP26.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

International community agrees on a road map for resolving the tax challenges arising from digitalisation of the economy

‘Crimes against humanity,’ ‘war crimes’ and risk of new ethnic violence in DR Congo, warn UN experts

Statement by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría on the outcome of COP 25

‘Maintain calm’ and ‘exercise patience’ UN envoy urges, as Nigeria heads to polls

The refugee crisis seen through the eyes of a young doctor from Turkey

Cleantech innovation is being stifled. Here’s how to unlock it

Basel III rules relaxed: Banks got it all but become more prone to crisis

These are the world’s 10 most innovative economies

4 myths about corruption

How to reimagine our cities as hubs for biodiversity, conservation and climate resilience

OECD and European Commission join forces to further support structural reforms in European countries

3 ways to protect LGBTI rights across the world

Commission disburses €14 billion under SURE to nine Member States

Protecting refugees in Europe: UNHCR calls for a ‘year of change’

‘Bicycle Kingdom’ makes a comeback, as China seeks solutions to tackle air pollution crisis

GSMA Announces First Keynote Speakers for 2019 “MWC Los Angeles, in Partnership with CTIA”

Palliative Care: A Gap to fill in healthcare service

5G will redefine entire business models. Here’s how

‘Catastrophic’ healthcare costs put mothers and newborns at risk

The Eurogroup protects Germany and blames others

How to talk about climate change: 5 tips from the front lines

Global Cooperation for Local Action: Fighting antimicrobial resistance

The future of crypto-assets, from opportunities to policy implications

This is what different countries are doing to stop coronavirus from spreading

Future-proofing the European banking market – removing the obstacles to exit

Why trade wars have no winners

Ηealth’s foundation is falling apart: what can we do about it?

European Commission and European Investment Fund launch €75 million BlueInvest Fund

Trade war or not New York bankers will have it their way

How building renovations can speed up the electric vehicle revolution

European Youth Capital 2018 : Cascais

Central African Republic: Guterres says UN mission committed to protecting civilians, helping stabilize country, as violence flares

Turkey needs to step up investment in renewables to curb emissions

Commissioner for Crisis Management in Kabul: EU steps up humanitarian assistance with €32 million

Senior UN children’s advocate says they ‘should never be targeted by violence’

A Sting Exclusive, the European Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger writes for the Sting on “EU Industry: a major energizer”

Chart of the day: These are the cities where the World Cup threatens productivity the most

Wash your hands, but keep your mind clean

Human rights breaches in Bangladesh, Cuba and Vietnam

New UN-supported farming app is cream of crop in tackling Sahel pest

Privatisation and public health: a question of Human Rights

Can this billion-dollar initiative save the world’s tropical forests?

European Investment Bank to borrow €70 billion in 2013

‘These are very dark times for Yemen’: senior UN official on air strike mass casualties

Why and how did ISIS and Muslim fundamentalism gain momentum this year?

Brexit: when the hubris of one man can set the UK, the EU and the entire world on fire

Warmongers ready to chew what is left of social protection spending

State aid: Commission refers United Kingdom to European Court for failure to fully recover illegal tax exemption aid of up to around €100 million in Gibraltar

Youth Forum calls on Parliament to ease entry into Europe for young people

Better sanitation for India is in the pipeline

Why transparency in drug pricing is more complicated than it seems

COVID-19: faster authorisation for vaccines adapted to variants

As inequality grows, the UN fights for a fairer world

DiscoverEU: 20,000 more young people will explore Europe in 2020

‘Undersea gardeners’ are restoring Jamaica’s lost coral reefs

The global response to the coronavirus pandemic must not be undermined by bribery

Banks must take bold action to fight climate change. This is how they can do it

COVID-19 threatens the developing world’s small businesses. This is how to save them

Chronic illnesses: UN stands up to stop 41 million avoidable deaths per year

Mediterranean migrant drownings should spur greater action by European countries, urge UN agencies

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s