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Major IPCC report: ‘The climate crisis is an oceans crisis’

A landmark UN report on the state of the world’s oceans will highlight the urgent need for a Global Ocean Treaty to create large scale marine protection across the planet.

The UN Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) is being finalised in Monaco this weekend, ahead of its launch by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on September 25.

The report, based on analysis of climate data by hundreds of leading international scientists, is the most comprehensive assessment to date of the current and future impacts of climate change on our oceans and cryosphere (areas of frozen water and land in the icy polar or high-mountain regions).

Greenpeace oceans campaigner, Jessica Desmond, says she expects the report will contain some hard truths about the state of our blue planet during the climate crisis.

"At current emissions rates, we are effectively dumping one million tonnes of CO2 into the oceans every hour. Unless we accelerate efforts to curb carbon emissions and take greater steps to protect our oceans, there will be devastating human, environmental and economic consequences," she says.

The oceans play a critical role in sustaining life on Earth. Together with ice-caps, they are vital in regulating the temperature of our planet, taking up 90% of excess heat in the system. As well as absorbing 20-30% of carbon from the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans provide or regulate much of our planet’s rainwater, drinking water, food and weather systems.

Desmond says that the latest IPCC report, that comes one year after the devastating ‘12 years to save the Earth’ edition that shocked the world, highlights the need for ambitious ocean protection to tackle the climate crisis.

"As an island nation with the vast majority of our population living on the coast, New Zealanders should take this latest report extremely seriously. As sea levels rise, oceans warm and pressures increase on our oceans, we must take steps to protect them from these threats.

"Climate breakdown, coupled with overexploitation from fishing, is pushing our blue planet to the verge of collapse, and we need to agree a strong Global Ocean Treaty at the UN next year, and place 30% of our oceans off-limits to human activities. This will give our oceans a real chance.

"At the most recent round of UN negotiations, ambition for a strong Ocean Treaty was lacking across the board, and New Zealand’s position still needs to be strengthened."

The report’s summary will be negotiated as climate strikers around the world take to the streets demanding governments act on the climate emergency.

Greenpeace is an accredited observer to the IPCC. A small delegation will be attending the 51st Session of the IPCC in Monaco from September 20-25, to participate in the final review process of the IPCC Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere.


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