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A Voice for Our Ocean

Statement: Ocean-Climate Action Will Protect Our Ocean, Communities and Economies

It is essential for all levels of government to dramatically increase their ambition confronting the ocean and climate crises, which disproportionately affect frontline communities.

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Madrid, Spain – The following statement was issued by Gwynne Taraska, Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Climate Program, in response to recent ocean-climate announcements at COP25 in Madrid.

 “Today at COP25, a number of countries and U.S. states have committed to ocean-climate action and have reported on their progress protecting the ocean and climate. For too long, governments have largely overlooked the ocean in climate action and diplomacy, but the ocean and climate are inextricably linked. Climate change is devastating to ocean ecosystems, coastal communities and island nations; at the same time, the ocean is a source of solutions to the climate crisis. The following initiatives, which can all be found here, launched today at the U.S. Climate Action Center at COP25:

  • Pacific Rim Ocean-Climate Action Partnership – The soft launch of a coalition of countries and states that resolves to drive ambitious emissions reductions, maximize ocean-related mitigation measures and build ocean and coastal resilience as well as community and economic resilience. Members include:
    • California, Fiji, Costa Rica, Panama and Peru
  • U.S. States Taking Ocean-Climate Action – A bipartisan and bicoastal call-to-action from U.S. states. These states are seeing the effects of climate change and are committed to ocean-climate stewardship to protect their communities and ecosystems. Signatories include:
    • Maryland, Washington, Virginia, California, Rhode Island and Hawaii
  • Models for Ocean-Climate Action – A guidance document from the members of the Pacific Coast Collaborative. U.S. west coast states and the province of British Columbia are working to confront the ocean and climate crises and have outlined their progress, so that it may serve as a global example. Members include:
    • Washington, Oregon, California and British Columbia

“The leadership from these states and countries are an important step in the growing ocean-climate movement. It is essential for all levels of government to dramatically increase their ambition confronting the ocean and climate crises, which disproportionately affect frontline communities. Through actions such as protecting coastal blue carbon habitats, investing in well-sited offshore renewable energy, pursuing sustainable climate-ready fisheries management and creating climate-smart marine protected areas, the ocean is a source of climate mitigation and adaptation solutions.

“The U.S. administration has begun the process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, but U.S. nonfederal leaders are continuing their leadership in the global climate effort. Going forward, the single most important thing we can see from the COPs – and from next year’s updated Nationally Determined Contributions – is increased ambition reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That is the only way to truly mitigate climate change to protect our ocean, communities, ecosystems and economies.”

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Gwynne Taraska, Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Climate Program, is available for media interviews upon request.

 STATEMENTS FROM LEADERS AT THE EVENT:

“I’m excited for California to be part of the founding members of the Pacific Rim Ocean-Climate Action Partnership. We recognize the ocean is a global resource. We’re focused on increasing our activities and ambition to protect the Pacific Ocean. What we’re focused on is really threefold. First, to continue increasing actions to reduce emissions from economies that rely on the ocean. Second, increase activities we take on the coast and in the ocean to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Third, because we recognize we’re already experiencing the impacts of climate change, pursue actions that build resilience.”

Secretary Wade Crowfoot, Secretary of Natural Resources, State of California

“Climate change discourse doesn’t really involve the ocean at all. I want to highlight the fact that the ocean is the largest carbon sink; we have seagrasses, mangroves and kelp fields. All of these have an enormous impact on small island states and coastal cities around the world.

The whole point of this is not just to highlight the ocean, but to bring home to the Pacific and Fiji what the ocean means to us. I see the ability of this partnership to replicate around other oceans like the Indian Ocean.”

Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Minister for Economy, Fiji

“For us, it is not a coincidence that we’re working together with countries like Fiji to ensure we have a very productive, healthy and resilient ocean. We can’t talk about a healthy climate system if we don’t have a healthy and resilient ocean as well. These kinds of coalitions can be very ambitious for not just this COP, but beyond this event too. We’re joining forces to put the ocean in the center of all negotiations going ahead. We have a great opportunity now to join our voices, join our actions, to actually do something and put the ocean into all the conventions and put all the conventions into the ocean as well.”

Vice Minister Haydée Rodríguez Romero, Vice Minister of Water and Seas, Costa Rica

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Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with our partners, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit www.oceanconservancy.org, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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