Greenpeace Report Calls on Urgent Action To Protect Oceans

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Our best hope to save the planet is to take immediate steps to save our oceans, a report from Greenpeace International issued for the latest round of climate talks in Madrid said this week.

The report - In Hot Water: The Climate Crisis and the Urgent Need for Ocean Protection - argues that it is vital to improve the degraded state of our oceans as they are the planet's biggest carbon sink.

It warns that the oceans are reaching the limits on being able to absorb excess heat and carbon dioxide generated by the climate crisis.

Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, said: 'We are standing at a pivotal moment in history. A global movement unlike anything we’ve seen before is demanding governments take action to address the climate emergency.'

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Global warming is having a dramatic impact on coral reefs

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Baleen whales such as this blue whale play an important role in regulating the climate

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Krill which plays a vital role in capturing carbon has been in decline since the 1970s

The report says recent research such as the IPCC’s Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere and the IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services confirm how important the oceans are in regulating the world's climate and stress that they are near breaking point.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere could 50 per cent higher if the systems such as the biological carbon pump, where phytoplankton turn CO2 into organic carbon which then enters the food chain, fail. It points out the krill populations - a vital part of the carbon cycle - have been in long-term decline since the 1970s due to pollution, overfishing and climate change.

The report also details the role large baleen whales have in regulating the climate. It is estimated that they store 910m tonnes less carbon than they did before commercial whaling.

Greenpeace argues that next year is crucial in the battle to protect the oceans. The UN is scheduled to agree a new Global Ocean Treaty limiting overfishing and ocean exploitation and also to push forward on getting international agreement on nations to pledge to protect at least 30 per cent of the oceans by 2030.

'The ocean’s biology is one of our best allies in the fight against climate change,' said Louisa Casson, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK. 'But over-exploitation and our addiction to fossil fuels have pushed our ocean to the brink of collapse. Ocean protection is climate action – if we can save our ocean, it can save us.'

Oceans are scheduled to be a key topic at COP25 - the UN climate change meeting in Madrid this month - where governments are now discussing progress on the Paris climate change agreement. 




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