The IPCC Report: What does it mean for our Ocean? Code Red for Humanity Two weeks ago, “Code Red for Humanity” headlines reverberated around the globe as the IPCC released its latest report Climate Change, The Physical Science Basis. Since code red day, we’ve been fielding all sorts of questions ranging from what the IPCC is, the relationship between climate change and the Ocean and particularly what can be done. So, I thought I’d share a few thoughts from an Ocean perspective. What is the IPCC and why does the report matter? A United Nations body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”), is the most widely internationally accepted authority on climate change. IPCC reports are not primarily public communication documents but are exhaustively researched to provide proven scientific facts for world leaders as the basis for climate negotiations. So what’s new in this report? This is the first of three reports within the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Cycle. The report does largely confirm what we already knew, but it is supported by an even more detailed body of scientific proof than ever before. The timing is critical, and we agree with the Greenpeace comment that “this is not the first generation of world leaders to be warned by scientists about the gravity of the climate crisis, but they’re the last that can afford to ignore them.” In 100 words, what do I need to know? The IPCC provides scientific evidence that human activities are causing our planet to warm at its fastest rate for over 2,000 years. Greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels and in particular CO2 concentrations, are at their highest levels for 2 million years. Global warming is causing the Ocean to heat, expand, acidify, and lose oxygen. This in turn is contributing to rising sea levels, glacial melt, an intensified global water cycle and extreme weather patterns. Without a fundamental reduction in GHG emissions, these problems will multiply within our lives creating a catastrophic impact on humanity and the natural world. What is the next platform for change? What is expected of it? As world leaders prepare to gather in Glasgow for COP26 later this year, the global impact of the report could not have come at a better time. To reverse the impact of global warming, the levels of GHG emissions need to be cut globally and urgently. As a minimum we should expect our governments to: Sign up to legally binding emissions targets without delay and follow through domestically on those agreements. Demand the preservation and restoration of the Ocean’s blue-carbon coasts assets Systemic change is going to require a recalibration of the way the major powers measure and manage their economies and we should be seeking structural changes such as the following: Require all environmental costs (eg. those arising from production, transportation, packaging and end-of-use disposal) to be priced into all goods and services. Properly regulate carbon pricing & carbon credits to create deeper and more effective green financial markets and extend to carbon capture incentives. Integrate renewable energy into all domestic, industrial & infrastructure projects. And personally, what can I do? Climate change can feel overwhelming, but there is plenty we can all do to make a difference. Here are just a handful of ideas to get you started: 1. Start to understand and influence your own carbon footprint For example: Find out where your food comes from and how its produced. Do you need to buy imported groceries when healthy food is produced locally? Eat seasonal food and ethically sourced produce. 2. Transport Continue your Covid-related lifestyle changes and travel less. Walk, take public transport and cycle more. 3. Education Get informed. The web is a rich source of on-line resource to increase your environmental knowledge and can help with those big decisions such as your house and car. 4. Use your voice You have influence, use it! Favour goods and services which demonstrate clear environmental committment in all your purchases. Avoid products with unnecessary packaging. Cast your vote wisely. Use social media to express a fair opinion. Support NGOs like Ocean Generation who are committed to behavioural change. The Ocean is.. …the cradle of life Covering over 70% of the earth’s surface, the Ocean is the single largest contributor to life on our planet, directly supporting over 240,000 marine species. The Ocean generates more than half the oxygen we breath, every single day. … and a carbon super-store Biologically rich marine ecosystems such as mangroves, seagrass meadows and salt marshes are, by surface area, 10 times more effective at storing CO2 than terrestrial forests. Mangroves alone store four times the carbon of all the world’s rain forests and form a critical natural land defence to extreme tidal conditions. These ecosystems are invaluable to our survival, yet in the last century, we removed over half of the world’s wetlands and mangroves through coastal development. Ocean Generation – tackling Ocean threats. The Climate crisis is just one of five human-made Ocean threats that we at Ocean Generation have identified based on scientific research. The others are Pollution, (including Plastic where we started our work 12 years ago), Coastal Development, Extraction (including industrial fishing) and Daily Ocean Use (including shipping and tourism). At Ocean Generation we aim to enable you to make a difference. Initially small behavioural changes that we can each adopt in our daily lives that can result in a big collective impact. Right now, what you are doing right now is taking action. Reading up on issues are a great way to digest what is happening. The more you know, the more you can do to protect out blue planet. At Ocean Generation we have a vision of an Ocean free from human threats within a generation. We hope you do too.