Ocean-based actions have greater potential to fill in gaps in climate change mitigation than previously appreciated, an Oregon State University scientist and two co-authors explain in a paper published today in Science.
The article by OSU distinguished professor Jane Lubchenco and her collaborators aims to connect the dots between two new international reports, one highlighting the devastating impact of climate change on the ocean, the other an analysis of ocean-related solutions to climate change.
The paper by Lubchenco and the reports by the International Panel on Climate Change, issued today in Monaco and New York, and the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, released Tuesday in New York at a meeting Lubchenco presided over, are among the key elements of international Climate Week.
Climate Week began Sept. 20 and includes marches and other activities around the world, with a focus on the United Nations and other sites in New York.
The key takeaway of the reports and the paper, Lubchenco said, is that we can now think of the ocean as a source of solutions, not just a victim of climate change. It is clear that the ocean has been bearing the brunt of climate change to date, but untapped ocean-related approaches to fighting climate change could play a large role in capping climate change at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-Industrial Age levels as called for in the 2016 Paris Agreement.
Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees would maintain substantial proportions of ecosystems while also benefiting health and economies, scientists say.
“The IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere paints a gloomy picture of the impacts of climate change on the ocean, ocean ecosystems and people, and an even more dismal portrayal of what is in store unless we get serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions rapidly,” said Lubchenco, a marine ecologist in the OSU College of Science and a former administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “But the new analysis conducted for the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy concludes that ocean-based activities have significant potential to help us actually reach the 1.5-degree Celsius target by 2050 – much greater potential than anyone realized.”