Earlier today, the Ocean Conservation APPG addressed the most challenging and pressing issue our blue planet faces; the ocean and climate crisis.
Rainforests are often referred to as the lungs of our planet, but all life also depends on the ocean. In addition to providing food, habitat and energy for people and wildlife, the ocean generates much of the oxygen we breathe. Covering 70% of the Earths surface, the ocean regulates the global climate by absorbing heat from the atmosphere and trapping huge amounts of carbon. However, the ocean is under threat with climate change causing ocean temperatures to rise, oxygen levels to reduce and acidity levels to rise dramatically.
With COP26 in Glasgow just around the corner, the Ocean Conservation APPG’s first event of 2021 highlighted these often-overlooked interlinkages between the ocean and climate, and emphasised the central role the ocean can play in helping to tackle climate change.
The group heard from leading marine biologist and environmentalist, Dr Heather Koldewey about the importance of the ocean to the climate system, likening it to the human heart in its importance in regulating the earth’s temperature. Heather also highlighted the damaging effects climate change is having on some of the ocean’s most awe-inspiring species and habitats such as turtles and coral reefs. You can view Dr Heather’s presentation slides here.
Attendees also heard about the real effects climate change is having on communities in the UK right now. Angela Thomas from Fairbourne Village in North Wales delivered her harrowing story about her local community who have been described as ‘the UK’s first climate refugees’ after a decision was made to decommission the village due to sea-level rise. She explained the damage this has caused such as an exodus from the village, plummeting house prices, and the constant state of uncertainty the remaining residents are forced to live with every day.
However, the ocean could be a possible answer to climate change.
Mark Parry from the Ocean Conservation Trust highlighted how the restoration of the marine environment can help mitigate climate change by allowing for the return of natural mechanisms to absorb carbon long term. Championing the role of blue carbon, Mark highlighted the importance of habitats such as seagrass meadows, kelp forests and mangroves in storing carbon up to 35 times more effectively than forests.
Clara Goldsmith from the Climate Coalition, emphasised the great opportunity presented by G7 and COP26 for the UK Government to show global leadership in the fight against climate change, take real action and make decisions which will determine our trajectory for years to come.
Finally, on the day marking Surfers Against Sewage’s (SAS) declaration of an Ocean and Climate Emergency and publication of the Ocean and Climate Report, Hugo Tagholm, CEO of SAS, called on the UK government to ensure the ocean is at the centre of climate conversations at COP26.
Concluding the event, Geraint Davies, Vice Chair of the Ocean Conservation APPG, urged the public to continue to wave the flag for the ocean and write to their MP to raise awareness about the ocean’s crucial role in tackling climate change.