We have less than week left before COP26. I repeat, we have less than one week left before COP26. But are these talks going to be the key to saving our Ocean?    

Before we get into it, here is a useful breakdown of everything you need to know about COP26 and why it matters to the Ocean

Who is attending?  

From the 31st of October to 12th November, world leaders, climate activists, NGOs, businesses and communities will be visiting Glasgow for the event. COP26 is a pivotal time for them to come together to establish plans and encourage tangible action to tackle the climate crisis.   

These are the 4 broad objectives for COP26:   

1.      Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach  

2.      Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats  

3.      Mobilise finance  

4.      Work together to deliver the finalised Paris Rulebook and accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis  

But where is the Ocean in these objectives?   

In the lead up, a lot of questions have been raised: Why is the Ocean not being prioritised? Will there be conversations around Ocean solutions? How can we hold world leaders to account to follow up with the targets?   

We’re curiously optimistic   

Even with all of this uncertainty, we are optimistic. We’re optimistic that the talks will act as an effective catalyst for accelerating climate action across many sectors. Collaboration and partnerships are key to making change happen and are central themes of what will make a successful COP26.  

What will a successful COP26 look like to us?  

Already we’ve seen how climate talks have taken centre stage internationally. And these discussions will only increase during and after COP26. But it is yet to be seen whether an agreement that all nations sign up to after the 12 days will be reached.  

Before COP26 kicks off, we at Ocean Generation have set our own objectives, and focus on key outcomes of what success looks like to us.   

Here’s our top-level list:  

1. A focus on the Ocean as a solution to the Climate Crisis 

There needs to be a shift in the narrative. The Ocean is commonly being portrayed as a victim of the climate crisis, but it should be seen as a solution. 

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2. Banning or reducing Bottom Trawling 

Bottom trawling is a widespread practice where heavy nets are dragged along the seabed.  

The carbon is then released from the seabed sediment into the water, and can increase Ocean acidification, as well as adversely affecting productivity and biodiversity. Marine sediments are the largest pool of carbon storage in the world.  

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3. Concrete steps towards achieving the UN’s 30 x 30 target and agreement towards delivering Marine Protected Areas 

The 30x30 campaign aims to protect 30% of our Ocean by 2030. Setting out steps towards achieving this, will result in multiple benefits such as: healthier ecosystems, climate change mitigation, reduced risk from extreme weather, and a boost in economy.   

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 4. An action plan to invest in blue carbon

There needs to be a protection of the blue carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems.  

These ecosystems sequester and store more carbon per unit area than terrestrial forests, like the Amazon rainforest, and are now (just about) being recognised for their role in mitigating climate change. But more needs to be done.  

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5. Bringing all voices into the conversation

Targets at COP26 must ensure the transformation of societies and economies in a way that leaves no one behind. Therefore, it is so important that there is space given at COP26 for all voices to be heard.  

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How can we hold them to account post COP26?    

COP26 will outline what needs to happen and hopefully set out an action plan to achieve them. However, how can we hold governments to account to follow through on what they’ve committed to?  

At Ocean Generation, we don’t like to finger point. We want to work collaboratively with governments, businesses, and other stake holders to achieve collective change.   

You, the reader, are so important in this change. We want to create a collective of informed readers, armed with the knowledge to bring these issues into the spotlight. This can be a slow burn but bear with us. We can work together to create change from the inside, instead of being the voices outside the meeting room.     

As Greta Thunberg said: “You are never too small to make a difference.”