I was therefore thrilled at the announcement that Chile would host COP25, the annual gathering of some 20,000 climate negotiators and activists, which starts on December 2nd. Another reason I was thrilled was because COP25 President, Carolina Schmidt, Chile’s Environment Minister, designated the event as the Blue COP. Chile has a coastline of over 4,000 kilometres, from Patagonia to the border of Peru, and one of the largest Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in the world, Chile wants COP25 to be the place where climate and ocean policy practitioners meet.
When the venue was moved to Madrid, Spain – my home of the last 35 years – the prospect of Minister Schmidt working with her Spanish counterpart, Minister Teresa Ribera – a long time ardent advocate of both climate and ocean protection, made me even happier. This is notwithstanding the concern we all share for the social situation in Chile.
COP25 – the Blue COP– will provide a unique opportunity for ocean and climate advocates to join forces and work together as never before. It is fair to say that in the past, ocean and climate experts have largely remained locked within their respective silos. Now they are coming together and connecting the dots.
In its recent Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that the ocean is warmer, more acidic and less productive as a result of climate change. The ocean is taking the heat from climate change. Literally: without the ocean’s heat trapping function there would be no life on our planet. And also figuratively:
- increased ocean temperature is affecting marine ecosystems and the services they provide;
- the increased concentration of CO2 is changing the chemical composition of the ocean with associated consequences for the marine food web;
- the melting of ice sheets is causing sea level rise and associated consequences for coastal communities,
- ocean-related extreme weather patterns are more frequent and stronger,
- and so forth.
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