On Wednesday, December 11th, Professor Sarah Reiter and COP25 student delegate Kristyn Ostanek attended several ocean-minded side events. The more than 75 ocean events over the course of the past two weeks here at the negotiations have been part of a strategic initiative to make the UNFCCC process more inclusive when it comes to increased awareness, ambition, and action regarding the global ocean. What made yesterday a bit different was the opportunity to stop and evaluate whether progress is actually being made for oceans at this, the Blue COP. In particular, three events yesterday were both informative and inspirational:
- The High Level Event on the Role of the Ocean-Climate Nexus,
- Small Island Leadership on oceans, climate and sustainable development goals (SDGs), and
- The Climate Change and Ocean Action Reception.
Ocean champions, leaders, and negotiators discussed the science behind the ocean-climate nexus, and evaluated the progress being made on oceans in the international climate regime process. In particular, Gwynne Taraska, Director of the Climate Program at the Ocean Conservancy, outlined four key elements to a justifiable assessment that the Blue COP has indeed been Blue, and identified how far we’ve come:
- A coalition of the willing: California is partnering with Pacific Rim nations on ocean-climate based initiatives.
- Ocean-based Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs) commitments: The Seychelles, Belize and Indonesia are leading the way with integrating blue carbon into their NDCs.
- Heightened visibility and awareness on the ocean-climate nexus: The 75+ ocean events during COP25 have increased dialogue and awareness in a process where oceans and climates, even within governments, are addressed and often managed, separately.
- Progress into the integration of oceans into the formal UNFCCC process: The end of the week should bring a decision from the COP President on the inclusion of oceans in the formal UNFCCC process. Sue Biniaz, who served as the lead climate lawyer for the U.S. State Department for more than twenty-five years, gave her evaluation of the proposal and its’ progress.
Below are some photos from the day.