Why protecting the oceans is now on the EU’s agenda

The oceans play an important role as a climate regulator. However, today, the oceans are threatened by various factors, including pollution, acidification caused by large quantities of CO2 and the loss of biodiversity.

Despite this, before the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015, the ocean has never been included in any climate treaties. Because of this, environmental groups fighting for cleaner oceans are calling for action to be taken

One group, Surfrider Europe, has organised an event at the G7 summit in France. This will be part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPPC) end-of-September special report and aims to protect the oceans through international climate change negotiations.

One of the group’s objectives is called “Ocean Call”. This is a four day event coordinated by Surfrider for states to make commitments on preventing damage to the oceans, in the same way as the commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In the “Ocean and Climate” toolbox created by the UN, states are able to determine how to do this. Surfrider is working with companies and local authorities, and commitments have already been made in France by the City of Paris (on water quality and plastic reduction for the Olympic Games), Aquitaine (on pesticides) and Marseille (on waste).

“And in the Paris Agreement, it only appears in the preamble and not in the articles. Companies in the textile, cosmetics and wine sectors are also committed to concrete, dated and quantified objectives,” said Surfrider France’s spokesperson, Anditia Citores.

Discussions in the G7 summit centred around the ocean’s role in reducing climate inequalities. The four main themes for this are  sustainable tourism and low impact water sports, biodiversity, ocean pollution by plastic, and climate.

Surfrider plans to address what the exact definition is of marine protected areas. The group is also calling for the reduction of CO2 emissions from maritime transport, and total decarbonisation by the year 2050.

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