At COP, the Ocean rose on the agenda. One official outcome from COP26 is that the Ocean will now be a fundamental component of all Climate COPs going forward. There will be an official dialogue on the ocean held ahead of each COP stemming from the unprecedented convergence that the climate cannot be tackled without the ocean, and that the ocean cannot be helped without climate action.
On the non-party side, we saw three Ocean Declarations (youth, public and private sector leaders, and 16 countries). One of these, the Ocean for Climate Declaration, was signed by LR and LRF and called on governments and businesses to scale up ocean-based climate solutions and action.
There were many other developments in the Ocean: Shipping, Offshore Renewables, Nature Based Solution, Blue Finance and Seafood. In the meantime, one emerging theme at meetings this year was the Just Transition, the human-centred approach to a zero carbon transition which asks 1) how we can support workers and communities who are transitioning out of the carbon economy and 2) how can we address existing inequalities through skills, capabilities, education in a low carbon world.
The Glasgow meeting was both a green and a blue COP. The Ocean-as a source of climate action- is expected to play an even greater role at COP27 in Egypt.
This year stands out from past COP meetings in terms of the voice, role and pledges of the non-party actors. We saw unprecedented convergence between investors, businesses, cities and subnational regions that can drive real economy transformation — now all actors must deliver.
Ocean action is Climate Action. This was the first Blue Cop that formally recognised that the Ocean is part of the solution. The role of the Ocean was squarely at the centre of climate discussion. To paraphrase John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy on the Climate said: “You cannot protect the ocean without solving climate change and you cannot solve climate change without protecting the Oceans."
Oceans will now be a fundamental component of all Climate COPs going forward. The ocean has now been formally recognised by the political process under the UNFCCC - reflecting years of ocean advocacy and work by the community. An ocean dialogue will take place each year as part of Climate COPs going forward.
Society has called on governments and businesses for ocean action as well as recognition of ocean-based climate solutions: At COP26, three separate declarations from across society called for greater support and protection for the ocean.
- Youth voices advocated for a Global Blue New Deal, recognising the role the ocean plays in regulating the climate; providing food, oxygen and ecosystem services; and supporting over 250 million livelihoods.
- Ocean for Climate Declaration- mobilised more than 100 local and international public and private sector actors to call on governments and businesses to scale up ocean-based climate solutions and action. Lloyd's Register and the Lloyd’s Register Foundation are proud signatories to this call for action.
- C. 20 countries signed the 'Because the Ocean' declaration pledging to tackle shipping emissions, develop clean ocean renewable energy and advocate for stronger public and private support for oceans.
Nature based solutions (NBS) were high on the agenda as mitigating carbon sinks and resilient coastal buffers
- US$145 million put into the Global Funds for Coral Reefs to help small island states protect and restore coral reefs, build coastal resilience, and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
- Public and private financial institutions committed $20 million of new investment in the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance, which pioneers finance and insurance products that incentivize investment into nature-based solutions in coastal and marine areas.
- The Great Blue Wall initiative, an Africa-led 2030 roadmap to conserve and restore marine and coastal biodiversity, while building the resilience of coastal communities and unlocking the development of a regenerative blue economy that benefits at least 70 million people.
- Seaweed was featured as a hopeful story. Seaweed mitigates and reverses climate change. It absorbs 3x more carbon per hectare than terrestrial forests and it is nutritious food that can be transported anywhere. This story needs more finance though to scale up its potential.
The financial markets are a critical tool in scaling up a sustainable ocean economy. A number of Blue bonds were announced:
- Latin America and the Caribbean received their first blue bond- with IDB Invest issuing an A$50 million, 10-year fixed rate bond. The proceeds will support projects that expand clean water and sanitation. (Tourism and Ports are said to come next)
- Fiji’s announced plans to issue Sovereign Blue Bonds in 2022
- Belize Blue Bond was issued with The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
Although shipping has not been a formal part of COP negotiations before, it received unprecedented attention at COP26 relative to previous COPS. It was clear that the shipping industry will decarbonise. It is now a matter of which technologies and at what pace. There were a number of significant declarations by countries.
- 14 countries call for zero by 2050 with interim 2030 and 2040
- > 20 countries signed the Clydebank Declaration to develop green shipping corridors
- 48 countries called for carbon levies to help SIDS and LDCs
- Leading Consumers and Cargo owners signalled intent to support Zero
- Just Transition in Maritime Taskforce announced with the UN Global Compact, the ITF and the ICS.
- Getting To Zero issued a call to action with over 200 signatories.
An emerging theme was that decarbonisation needs to be a human-centred transition. The official outcome references to the need to ensure a just transitions that promote sustainable development and eradication of poverty, and the creation of decent work.
- The world’s largest economies reiterated the importance of Just Transition as 30 nations committed to strategies ensuring that workers, businesses and communities are supported.
- The UN Global Compact launched a Just Transition Think Lab and the UNGC will lead a Just Transition Maritime Task Force along with ICS, ITF, ILO and IMO as key partners to ensure a just transition for the maritime sector.
- The language around ‘rapidly scaling up the deployment of clean power generation’ was welcomed by the offshore renewable energy industry. The weakened language around ‘phasing down’ rather than ‘phasing out’ of coal was disappointing.
Overall, the Ocean Narrative has been agreed, in terms of its centrality in addressing climate change, biodiversity and the 2030 Global Agenda.
A number of high-level meetings will carry forward ocean work from COP26 in 2022 including:
- February: One Ocean Summit, France
- February: Our Ocean Summit: Pilau
- April: UN Conference on Biodiversity (Part 2): China
- June: UN Ocean Conference: Portugal
- November: UN Climate COP28: Egypt