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Our Programs

Confronting Climate Change

Taking the ocean into account is critical for successfully addressing climate change, and addressing climate change is critical for the future of the ocean

Ocean Conservancy envisions a healthy future for our ocean and the communities that rely on it, free from greenhouse gas pollution and resilient to the climate impacts we can no longer avoid.

To help achieve this vision, we create sustainable ocean-based climate solutions, work with all levels of government to implement these solutions and help build demand for climate action. We are bringing the power of the ocean to the global fight against climate change.

We Must Confront the Climate Crisis

We need you to call on our leaders to provide funding to prevent the worst climate impacts and help people adapt to the changes they are already experiencing. Urge the Biden administration to keep their commitment to urgently prioritize funding climate action.

The Problem

The ocean has protected us from the worst effects of climate change.

From the beginning of industrialization until today, the ocean has absorbed more than 90 percent of the heat from human-caused global warming and about one-third of our carbon emissions. But we are now seeing the devastating effects of that heat and carbon dioxide.

The ocean is too big to ignore. A range of climate impacts—including ocean acidification, sea-level rise and stronger and more frequent hurricanes—are damaging our coastal industries and communities. Moreover, these ocean-climate impacts disproportionately harm communities of color, Indigenous communities, poor communities and others that are historically underserved and underrepresented.

There is more than our own wellbeing at risk—ocean ecosystems and wildlife are also at stake. Coral reefs are dying off and could be eradicated completely by the end of the century; the essential sea ice of the Arctic is disappearing, threatening Arctic animals and ecosystems; and even fish will decline as their populations shrink and move in search of cooler water.

We are in danger of losing what makes the ocean such an important and special place to so many of us, who rely on it for livelihoods, food, recreation and moments of wonder. Although climate action and ocean conservation efforts historically have been separated, we cannot save the ocean without acting on climate change, and we cannot confront the climate crisis without considering the ocean.

The Solution

In order to protect our communities, ocean and planet, we must work to limit global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-Industrial temperatures.

This means reducing greenhouse gas pollution—including carbon dioxide emissions, which cause not only warming but also ocean acidification—to net-zero no later than 2050. And, as our society shifts away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy, we must ensure a just transition for impacted communities, workers and cultures.

With diminishing time to address the climate crisis, we need to reduce greenhouse gas pollution across every sector, from electricity and transportation to buildings and agriculture. In this context, it is important to remember that the ocean is not just a victim of climate change but also a key part of the solution. From reducing emissions from shipping and ports to scaling up well-sited offshore renewable energy, we can look to ocean industries to contribute a range of sustainable climate measures.

A Brighter Future After an Oil Disaster is Possible

It has been 14 years since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, one of the largest environmental catastrophes in United States history. Let’s learn from our past and stop allowing companies to drill more in our ocean.

Protect Our Ocean from Its Greatest Threat

Give today to protect our ocean from the effects of the climate crisis and other threats. Ocean Conservancy is on the front lines of ocean protection, but we can’t do our work without you.

Confronting Climate Change

Championing Ocean Climate Action at COP28

The Latest

Four Impacts of Ocean Warming
Four Impacts of Ocean Warming

A mollusk swims up to a sea cucumber. The mollusk looks around at the reef and says (because in jok…

Eleanor Pierel

Climate Science Manager

How the Water Cycle Impacts the Weather and Our Ocean
How the Water Cycle Impacts the Weather and Our Ocean

“How’s the weather?” may have once been the most common conversation starter on the planet. R…

Eleanor Pierel

Climate Science Manager

Protecting Marine Mammals Through New Technology
Protecting Marine Mammals Through New Technology

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a critical law …

Michael Freeman

Senior Policy Analyst, Renewable Energy

Championing Ocean Climate Action at COP28
Championing Ocean Climate Action at COP28

Responding to the climate crisis is undeniably urgent. Rising temperatures are disrupting ecosystem…

Shamini Selvaratnam

International Climate and Clean Energy Associate Director

Ocean Justice Requires Climate Action for All
Ocean Justice Requires Climate Action for All

For ocean advocates like me who have been tracking the $1.5 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law …

Olivia Lopez

Senior Specialist, Climate Policy

Record-Breaking Ocean Temperatures
Record-Breaking Ocean Temperatures

All over the world we are witnessing record-breaking temperatures and longer-lasting periods of ext…

Whitney Berry

Senior Manager of Climate Policy

No New Offshore Oil and Gas Leases
No New Offshore Oil and Gas Leases

I’ve spent a large part of my career working to prevent and end offshore oil and gas drilling. So…

Andrew Hartsig

Senior Director, Arctic Program

Untangling Threats to Whales
Untangling Threats to Whales

In recent years, an elevated number of whale strandings have occurred along the east coast of the U…

Michael Freeman

Senior Policy Analyst, Renewable Energy

Make a Difference for Our Ocean

Support from donors like you is critical to develop solutions to our ocean’s greatest challenges, like plastic pollution, risky drilling and the climate crisis. Make a gift today to this essential conservation work and be a part of our vision for a healthier ocean. We can’t do it without you.

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