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


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How Ocean-Based Solutions Contribute to Net Zero

April 20, 2021

On April 20, 2021, leaders from around the world joined a discussion, How Ocean-Based Solutions Contribute to Net Zero, hosted by the countries of the Friends of the Ocean and Climate and organized by Ocean Conservancy and the UN Foundation. The event, held in advance of President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate, highlighted how ocean-based solutions support increased climate ambition by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increasing resilience while protecting our vital ocean resources.

As Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry and other world leaders stated, we won’t solve the climate crisis without the ocean and we cannot ignore the ocean’s plight or that of climate-vulnerable ocean nations. Below are key ocean-based climate solution announcements and commitments made by the leaders who participated. These announcements highlight the critical role of the ocean in climate mitigation ambition, resilience and adaptation, and range from expanding ocean-based renewable energy and decarbonizing shipping, to creating marine protected areas, promoting green infrastructure and restoring coastal habitats.

 Key Announcements

Presidential Special Envoy for Climate John F. Kerry and Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, United States 

  • The United States committed to working with countries in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to adopt the goal of achieving zero emissions from international shipping by 2050 and to adopt ambitious measures that will place the entire sector on a pathway to achieve this goal.
  • The United States reiterated its commitment to deploy at least 30 gigawatts of offshore wind in the United States by 2030.
  • The United States highlighted the goal to conserve at least 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. 
  • The United States announced renewed support for the three marine protected area proposals in the Southern Ocean under CCAMLR and called on CCAMLR members to adopt these MPAs at this year’s meeting.
  • The United States announced enhanced support for and engagement with islands and island nations around the world through three initiatives:  support from the Department of Energy (DOE) through the Energy Transitions Initiative – Global, a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Energy, State Department and NOAA to support island partner nations’ efforts to decarbonize and achieve energy self-sufficiency; support from NOAA to build the capacity of islands to integrate climate information into coastal management to support sustainable development; and support for the Local 2030 Island Network, a peer-to-peer network bringing the United States and global islands together to share local solutions.  

Minister for Pacific and the Environment Lord Zac Goldsmith, United Kingdom 

  • The UK plans to quadruple its offshore wind energy development capacity to 40 gigawatts by 2030, producing enough clean energy to power many millions of homes and creating tens of thousands of jobs in coastal communities at the same time.  
  • “We’re putting nature at the heart of our G7 and COP26 presidencies, building alliances committed to shifting the immense power of the market away from destruction and towards sustainability. At the end of 2019, the Prime Minister of the UK announced that we would be doubling our international climate finance to 11.6 billion. He’s since committed us to spend at least 3 billion pounds of that on nature-based solutions to climate change…on the back of that commitment, we’re developing a pipeline of really ambitious and exciting programs, including a new 500-million-pound Blue Planet Fund…All of our economic activity is derived from nature, without nature, we have nothing.” 
  • The new Blue Planet Fund will support establishing and improving marine protected areas, address illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and build on other existing efforts to reduce plastic and other forms of ocean pollution.  

Minister of Climate and Environment Mr. Sveinung Rotevatn, Norway 

  • Norway emphasized the recommendation of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy to unite forces to increase the extent of critical ocean and coastal ecosystems to benefit climate mitigation and resilience while supporting livelihoods and food security. 
  • The Norwegian government has established a target to cut emissions from domestic shipping and fishing by 50% by 2030.  
  • Norway is also providing assistance to developing countries to transition to zero-emission shipping through the IMO’s “Green Voyage 2050” program.  

Deputy Director-General for Engineering Affairs, Maritime Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure,
Transport and Tourism Mr. Hideaki Saito, Japan 

  • Japan has set a national target to be carbon neutral by 2050.  
  • Japan is working to develop the first-ever commercial-ready ocean-going zero-emissions ship with the hope of delivering this ship to the market at the latest by 2028. 

H.E. Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, Fiji 

  • Fiji emphasized that small island development states (SIDS) are sorely underrepresented in international dialogues, yet are the most vulnerable communities, requiring access to finance and a seat at the table. “Turning a blind eye to the world’s most vulnerable states we are not looking forward, we are turning back…Our plight needs to be heard, it needs to be seen, and it needs to be met with tangible action. Just because our carbon footprint is small, doesn’t mean we aren’t filled with big ideas and perspective. Nowhere is that more true than when it comes to the  vitality of our ocean. Afterall, we may be small islands but we are large ocean states.” 
  • Fiji expressed strong support for a new global target to protect at least 30% of the global ocean through a network of fully protected marine areas at the Convention on Biological Diversity COP15 and joined the Blue Leaders. 

H.E. President David Kabua, Marshall Islands 

  • “Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands in the pacific have introduced a proposal for a cost levee on maritime transport which supplies the world and which will fund greater innovation and effort on emissions cuts in the maritime sector, while also addressing vulnerable nations – we look forward to robust discussions at the IMO to ensure the maritime sectors acts at the scale and speed needed to play a role in strong global action. And while we push for action abroad, we are also seeking to transform our own domestic fleet towards low carbon technology.” 

Governor of Hawaii David Ige, United States 

  • Islands of the United States, including Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam are joining the Local 2030 Network.  
  • Gov. Ige noted Hawaii’s existing commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2045, including ocean energy.  
  • Hawaii is a proud partner of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and the Governor reiterated Hawaii’s Sustainable Hawaii Initiative to steward 30% of ocean and critical watersheds in the state.  
  • Continued commitment to the Aloha + Challenge, a framework for collaborations across multiple goals, which aligns with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and can be shared as a framework for localizing the SDGs to an island context.  

Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrés Allamand, Chile 

  • Chile is committed to adopting the goal of protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030.  
  • In negotiations at the UN to finalize a new High Seas Treaty focused on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond national jurisdictions, Chile will support a treaty that allows the international community to establish comprehensive cross-sectoral, fully and highly protected marine protected areas on the high seas.  
  • The Minister reiterated the idea to consider building an alliance to support the creation and management of MPAs in the world. 

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Justice and the North Sea Vincent Van Quickenborne, Belgium 

  • Support an ambitious target at the International Maritime Organization to reduce international shipping emissions 55% by 2030 and achieve zero emissions shipping by 2050.  
  • Supporting continued invest in offshore wind energy, Belgium is working to double their existing offshore wind energy capacity by 2030.  
  • Support protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030 and work with the Blue Leaders coalition.  

Minister of Environment and Energy Andrea Meza Murillo, Costa Rica 

  • Costa Rica commits to continue doing its part to include nature-based solutions in their enhanced NDCs, focusing on protecting blue carbon ecosystems.  
  • Costa Rica commits to advancing MPAs, recognizing them as a “new strategy of the future”. Costa Rica notes, under its government, that it aims to protect 30% of its EEZ before 2022. 

Minister of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment Flavien Joubert, Seychelles 

  • Seychelles is one of the first countries to fully protect 30% of its EEZ and supports the global target to protected 30% of the ocean by 2030.  
  • Must be able to monitor measure and manage the benefits of blue carbon ecosystems.  
  • Seychelles commits, in their next NDC, to include pioneering new technologies to map sea grass ecosystems across the entire EEZ and, subject to external support, build upon existing work to effectively manage the 30% of their EEZ and ensure at least 25% of coastal wetlands are protected by 2025 and 100% by 2050.  
  • Called on the global community to support Seychelles in achieving these goals that contribute to their survival. 
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