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Ocean Currents

From Marrakech, Where The Winds of Change also Blow 

LauraKnight_Oregon_blog

This guest blog was written by Jay Manning. Mr. Manning is a Partner at Cascadia Law Group, an environmental firm in Washington state. He was formerly the Director of Washington’s Department of Ecology and Governor Christine Gregoire’s Chief of Staff.

A funny thing happened at a meeting this week in Marrakech. Countries from around the world are meeting to decide how they will implement the landmark Paris Climate Agreement. In December last year, 195 countries agreed to aggressive targets to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and limit global warming. As the COP22 meeting began, our country, which has been a crucial player and leader in the fight against climate change, elected Donald J. Trump as President.

While U.S. elections are always followed with interest from other countries, Marrakech COP22 attendees struggled this week to understand what happened with regard to the U.S. election and what it means for global efforts to tackle the already formidable challenge to reduce emissions, transition to a clean energy economy and maintain the health of our ocean and marine life. The president-elect has said that global warming is a hoax, has promised to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, and has appointed a climate change skeptic to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s transition team.  But despite these worrying signs, a true rainbow coalition of attendees from every corner of the planet quickly rallied and moved to a mindset of determination to unite, move forward and make progress.

I am attending as a representative from the Pacific Coast Collaborative, representing the states of Washington, Oregon, California and the Canadian province of British Columbia. I am talking with representatives from countries all around the world, as well as the many states and cities sending delegations here about an exciting initiative that we are undertaking, in partnership with Ocean Conservancy—the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification. We are at Marrakech calling on our peers for more action and leadership to tackle the increasingly urgent challenge of ocean acidification and related impacts on our world’s ocean.

The conversations I am having with people here give me much hope that we will continue to make progress. Yesterday, for example, I was buoyed by four amazing ocean scientists from Egypt, South Africa, Namibia and our host country Morocco with whom I spoke on a panel. They are studying ocean acidification and what it means to marine ecosystems and coastal communities and economies on parts of the African coast.  Their sense of optimism and their conviction that the world will move forward with science-based actions to protect our communities, our ocean and our species was contagious and a welcome antidote to my most negative of mindsets this week.

Now is not the time to give up.  The imperative to come together to protect our planet, including its incredible ocean is no less important today than it was yesterday.

Yours in solidarity in Marrakech.

 

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