By Magdalena AK Muir, Advisory Board Member, Climate and Global Change, EUCC
By Magdalena A K Muir, Advisory Board Member, Global and Climate Change, EUCC
Given the importance of oceans to the global climate and the degree to which oceans are affected by climate changes, it is somewhat disheartening to have the UN Oceans Conference in New York City, immediately after the US has announced its withdrawal from the Paris Convention. This withdrawal and means to continue to respond to climate impacts on oceans will be front and center in the discussions in New York City in the coming week. Further reporting will also be provided during the coming week.
The UN Global Oceans Conference will be highly attended (about 5000 participant) and first UN oceans conference which will raise the profile of oceans and focus on their sustainability internationally. The degree of participation and important of this event for the overall UN is discussed in the June 1, 2017 press conference:
The Call to Action
After three rounds of prior intergovernmental discussions concluding on May 26, 2017, the draft Call for Action is the text of a concise, focused, intergovernmentally agreed declaration to be submitted to the Ocean Conference for discussion, revision, and formal adoption.
The text of the call for action is included as a pdf here: 15259Final_Draft_Call_for_Action_PGA_Letter
Key areas in the Call to Action have been of longstanding efforts for EUCC in Europe and internationally including climate change, sustainable fisheries and plastics. Some extracts from this call to action are provided below:
4. We are particularly alarmed by the adverse impacts of climate change on the ocean, including the rise in ocean temperatures, ocean and coastal acidification, deoxygenation, sea-level rise, the decrease in polar ice coverage, coastal erosion and extreme weather events. We acknowledge the need to address the adverse impacts that impair the crucial ability of the ocean to act as climate regulator, source of marine biodiversity, and as key provider of food and nutrition, tourism and ecosystem services, and as an engine for sustainable economic development and growth. We recognise, in this regard, the particular importance of the Paris Agreement adopted under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
Scientific information and assessment
10. We stress the importance of enhancing understanding of the health and role of our ocean and the stressors on its ecosystems, including through assessments on the state of the ocean, based on science and on traditional knowledge systems. We also stress the need to further increase marine scientific research to inform and support decision-making, and to promote knowledge hubs and networks to enhance the sharing of scientific data, best practices and know-how.
Role of international agreements and conventions
11. We emphasise that our actions to implement Goal 14 should be in accordance with, reinforce and not duplicate or undermine, existing legal instruments, arrangements, processes, mechanisms or entities. We affirm the need to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want.
Development of cooperative activities including climate, fisheries and plastics
13 (i) Implement long-term and robust strategies to reduce the use of plastics and microplastics, pmticularly plastic bags and single use plastics, including by partnering with stakeholders at relevant levels to address their production, marketing and use.
13 (k) Develop and implement effective adaptation and mitigation measures that contribute to increasing and supporting resilience to ocean and coastal acidification, sea-level rise, and increase in ocean temperatures, and to addressing the other harmful impacts of climate change on the ocean as well as coastal and blue carbon ecosystems such as mangroves, tidal marshes, seagrass, and coral reefs, and wider interconnected ecosystems impacting on our ocean, and ensure the implementation of relevant obligations and commitments.
13 (I) Enhance sustainable fisheries management, including to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics, through the implementation of science-based management measures, monitoring, control and enforcement, supporting the consumption of fish sourced from sustainably managed fisheries, and through precautionary and ecosystem approaches as appropriate, as well as strengthening cooperation and coordination, including through, as appropriate, regional fisheries management organisations, bodies and arrangements.
13 (m) End destructive fishing practices and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, addressing their root causes and holding actors and beneficiaries accountable by taking appropriate actions, so as to deprive them of benefits of such activities, and effectively implementing flag State obligations as well as relevant port State obligations.
13 (n) Accelerate further work and strengthen cooperation and coordination on the development of interoperable catch documentation schemes and traceability of fish products. (o) Strengthen capacity building and technical assistance provided to small-scale and artisanal fishers in developing countries, to enable and enhance their access to marine resources and markets and improve the socio-economic situation of fishers and fish workers within the context of sustainable fisheries management.
13 (p) Act decisively to prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, including through accelerating work to complete negotiations at the World Trade Organization on this issue, recognising that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of those negotiations.
In addition to the main conference, there are many formal and informal side events. EUCC has had a longstanding cooperation with the Global Oceans Forum and supports their side event on June 8, 2017:
EUCC-Supported Side Event
The Global Ocean Forum, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, the Government of Grenada, the Government of Seychelles, the Oceano Azul Foundation, Portugal, and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Ocean Policy Research Institute, Japan, it is a pleasure to invite you to participate in our Side Event on Addressing Oceans and Climate and Building the Blue Economy: Essential to SDG 14 Implementation to be held on June 8, 6:15 to 7:30 PM, Conference Room 1, and to participate in the Roadmap to Oceans and Climate Action. The brochure for the side event is attached below.
Final Draft of Call for Action https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/15259Final_Draft_Call_for_Action_PGA_Letter.pdf
UN Global Oceans Conference https://oceanconference.un.org/
Global Ocean Forum http://www.globaloceanforum.com
Brochure for EUCC Supported Side Event found here: JUNE 8 SIDE EVENT OCEANS AND CLIMATE AND BLUE ECONOMY
UN Press Conference on June 1, 2017 http://webtv.un.org/watch/peter-thomson-general-assembly-president-and-wu-hongbo-desa-on-previewing-the-world-ocean-conference-5-9-june-2017-un-headquarters-press-conference-1-june-2017/5456057145001
Other Relevant Documentation
Resolutions and decisions
A/RES/70/226 – United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development [Arabic] [Chinese] [English] [French] [Russian] [Spanish]
A/RES/70/303 – Modalities for the United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development [Arabic] [Chinese] [English] [French] [Russian] [Spanish]
Background note of the Secretary-General for the preparatory process of the United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development [Arabic] [Chinese] [English] [French] [Russian] [Spanish]
Provisional agenda [Arabic] [Chinese] [English] [French] [Russian] [Spanish]
Concept papers for the partnership dialogues
Concept Paper on Partnership dialogue 1: Addressing marine pollution (Advance unedited version)
Concept Paper on Partnership dialogue 2: Managing, protecting, conserving and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems (Advance unedited version)
Concept Paper on Partnership dialogue 3: Minimizing and addressing ocean acidification (Advance unedited version)
Concept Paper on Partnership dialogue 4: Making fisheries sustainable (Advance unedited version)
Concept Paper on Partnership dialogue 5: Increasing economic benefits to small islands developing States and least developed countries and providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets (Advance unedited version)
Concept Paper on Partnership dialogue 6: Increasing scientific knowledge, and developing research capacity and transfer of marine technology (Advance unedited version)
Concept Paper on Partnership dialogue 7: Enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Advance unedited version)
Draft Programme of the Partnership Dialogues
Briefing on the United Nations high-level oceans conference 2017: The trade and development perspective (16 Jan 2017)
Concept papers for partnership dialogues
Guidance note on Voluntary Commitments for SDG 14 and The Ocean Conference
Guidance Note Partnership Dialogues
Informal briefing by the President of the General Assembly on the ongoing preparations for the Ocean Conference (13 Dec 2016)
Inputs to the SG background note
DESA – Chapter 3. The Oceans, Seas, Marine Resources and Human Well-being Nexus
DESA – TST Issues Brief: Oceans and Seas
DESA – Mapping the linkages between oceans and other Sustainable Development Goals: A preliminary exploration
DESA – How oceans- and seas-related measures contribute to the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development: Local and regional experiences
Source: The New York Times
The United States, with its love of big cars, big houses and blasting air-conditioners, has contributed more than any other country to the atmospheric carbon dioxide that is scorching the planet.
“In cumulative terms, we certainly own this problem more than anybody else does,” said David G. Victor, a longtime scholar of climate politics at the University of California, San Diego. Many argue that this obligates the United States to take ambitious action to slow global warming.
Against that backdrop, factions in the Trump administration are engaged in a heated debate over whether to remain a party to the 195-nation agreement on climate change reached in Paris in 2015. President Trump promised on Wednesday to announce his decision at 3 p.m. Thursday in the White House Rose Garden.
Source: The New York Times
Developing nations and environmental groups condemned the presence of corporate lobbyists at a climate change talk session in Germany, but the United States defended it.
Developing nations and environmental groups are challenging some of the world’s biggest companies and wealthiest countries over the role corporate lobbyists play in United Nations climate change negotiations.
The dispute opens an additional battle in the struggle over how to fashion a global response to climate change, one that corporate interests appear to be winning, for now.
Though companies are not permitted to participate directly in the climate talks, representatives from almost 300 industry groups are free to roam the negotiations in Bonn, Germany, as “stakeholders,” and to lobby negotiators on behalf of corporations that may seek to slow action, the developing nations and their allies say.
Source: The Guardian
An immense river that flowed from one of Canada’s largest glaciers vanished over the course of four days last year, scientists have reported, in an unsettling illustration of how global warming dramatically changes the world’s geography.
The abrupt and unexpected disappearance of the Slims river, which spanned up to 150 metres at its widest points, is the first observed case of “river piracy”, in which the flow of one river is suddenly diverted into another.
For hundreds of years, the Slims carried meltwater northwards from the vast Kaskawulsh glacier in Canada’s Yukon territory into the Kluane river, then into the Yukon river towards the Bering Sea. But in spring 2016, a period of intense melting of the glacier meant the drainage gradient was tipped in favour of a second river, redirecting the meltwater to the Gulf of Alaska, thousands of miles from its original destination.
The continental-scale rearrangement was documented by a team of scientists who had been monitoring the incremental retreat of the glacier for years. But on a 2016 fieldwork expedition they were confronted with a landscape that had been radically transformed.
Source: The Guardian
New research has convincingly quantified how much the Earth has warmed over the past 56 years. Human activities utilize fossil fuels for many beneficial purposes but have an undesirable side effect of adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at ever-increasing rates. That increase – of over 40%, with most since 1980 – traps heat in the Earth’s system, warming the entire planet.
But how fast is the Earth warming and how much will it warm in the future? Those are the critical questions we need to answer if we are going to make smart decisions on how to handle this issue.
At any time the direct effect of this blanket is small, but the accumulated effects are huge and have consequences for our weather and climate. Over 90% of the extra heat ends up in the ocean and hence perhaps the most important measurements of global warming are made in the oceans.