Ocean and Climate: a “Blue” COP to Make Policy Waves

published on 29 November 2019
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Ocean near Mauritania
On Monday, AFD joins organizations and government representatives from all over the world for a summit in Madrid that puts oceans at the center of the fight against climate change. A wide range of topics will be tackled from 2 to 13 December at the Conference of the Parties – COP 25 - from forests to food. Above all though, oceans will be the top priority.

“A Blue COP” – this is how the UN has billed the 25th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Climate Change, unfolding over the next two weeks.  For the first time, world leaders will put oceans at the center of the fight against climate change.  

Covering more than two-thirds of Earth’s surface, oceans play an essential role in sustaining life on Earth. More than 3 billion people owe their livelihoods to marine and coastal biodiversity. Their role in climate change regulation is crucial.  

Oceans absorb more than 25% of the CO2 emitted each year and supply 50% of the oxygen produced on the planet. They also absorb more than 90% of the heat resulting from greenhouse gas emissions.

Protect the Oceans to Protect the Planet

As bulwarks against excessive global warming, oceans must be protected.  With the onslaught of acidification, pollution and overexploitation however, the world’s water systems are more vulnerable than ever. That’s why the Madrid conference is putting oceans at the center of current climate negotiations.
The IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and the Cryosphere, whose alarming findings were published in September, will be the subject of discussions and possible adoption by the COP. This is an important part of the scientific and political debate, which will have policy ramifications for years to come.  Read our briefing (in French).

Several major initiatives aimed at better protecting oceans will be announced in the coming days. Chile, with its 6,000 kilometers of coastline, holds the COP presidency for the year and has made this issue a priority. 

While the ocean is especially vulnerable to climate change, it’s also part of the solution in the fight against global warming.

                                   -- Statement from the Ocean and Climate Platform

This COP is also an opportunity to understand the interdependence between biodiversity and climate systems.  France is among the countries to have pushed biodiversity to the top of the agenda, ahead of next year’s Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in China. 

Oceans, biodiversity and climate change are among France’s – and AFD’s –  top development priorities. AFD has funded or supported 251 such projects for a total of €4.8 billion, between 2008 and 2018.   

The France Pavilion 

To kick off the event at the France Pavilion will be AFD Chief Executive Officer Rémy Rioux, and French climate scientist and co-chair of IPCC Working Group N° 1, Valérie Masson-Delmotte. 

At the helm is the Ocean and Climate Platform. The OCP is a 70-member coalition centered around one message: “a healthy ocean, a protected climate.” Since 2014, it has worked to build a better understanding of the relationship between oceans and climate change, and has urged world leaders to include oceans in climate negotiations. 

The OCP contributes scientific expertise, initiates actions for the mobilization of civil society, and provides support and advice to the French government. AFD has financially supported OCP initiatives since May 2019.