Ahead of the upcoming 28th United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference at the end of the month, partners of the Ocean Pavilion and stakeholders have unveiled the COP28 Dubai Ocean Declaration, emphasizing the pivotal role of the ocean in climate regulation.
The declaration, supported by over 40 international organizations, urges world leaders to recognize the ocean’s significance and bolster efforts to enhance global ocean observations.
The ocean has absorbed more than 90% of excess heat and nearly 30% of excess carbon dioxide (CO2) resulting from human activities, underscoring its critical role in mitigating climate change, according to a joint statement by Ocean Pavilion organizers Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).
However, the COP28 Dubai Ocean Declaration highlights a concerning lag in international investment in ocean observing systems, hindering informed decision-making.
The declaration urges leaders to actively “support and foster efforts to greatly expand and improve ocean observations worldwide.”
As the world approaches an alarming 1.5°C temperature increase over pre-industrial levels, the declaration aligns with a recommendation by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for potential atmospheric CO2 removal to meet the Paris Agreement goals.
The signatories also draw attention to a 2021 report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, advocating accelerated research into ocean-based carbon removal strategies.
The COP28 Dubai Ocean Declaration calls for concrete measures to protect the ocean, incorporating key points into the UN climate conference negotiations.
It stresses the ocean’s role in achieving net-negative emissions and calls for urgent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, coupled with efforts to address human-induced damages such as overfishing, habitat destruction, and marine pollution.
With this in mind, the signatories outline specific efforts, including improving global stocktake estimates, implementing robust environmental monitoring for CO2 removal strategies, expanding observation capabilities, and developing capacity in island nations and developing countries.
The Ocean Pavilion at COP28, returning for its second year, serves as a dedicated space to spotlight ocean-based solutions in the face of the climate crisis.
Throughout the conference, it will host over 80 events, discussions, and meetings to amplify the importance of the ocean in climate action.