Five years after the Paris Agreement, the fight is not over


On December 12th, 2015, after COP21, the signatory countries to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reached a historic agreement. For the first time, the role of oceans and marine ecosystems is included in climate negotiations. However, 5 years later, the progress and prospects are not equal to the signatories ambitions. The Ocean and Climate Platform (OCP) alarms on the urgent need of the adaptation to sea-level rise.   

What about the carbon neutrality objective by 2050?  

The year 2020 was meant to be a decisive stage in the implementation of the Paris Agreement with nationally determined contributions revised upwards. And yet the assessment is alarming. Efforts to limit warming to 1.5 °C and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 have been largely insufficient. 

We can, however, highlight a number of strategic advances achieved in the last five years such as the integration of the Ocean in the Climate Convention during the COP25, the “Blue COP” in Madrid. However, these advances, which highlight the necessity to preserve marine ecosystems by virtue of their climate functions, will only make a real impact if we achieve the goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  

Recent announcements by the European Union of its intention to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2030, the expected return of the USA to the Paris Agreement, and China’s announcement in favour of carbon neutrality by 2060 all bring fresh hope of a new dynamic emerging. They could remobilize the international community. 

Urgent need of the adaptation to sea-level rise  

In the absence of a drastic and rapid reduction in emissions the level of the sea will continue to rise and could be almost a meter higher by 2100. Extreme events linked to the height of the sea which previously occurred only once in a century could happen at least once a year. Coasts are the first victims. In France, 864 districts and 165,000 buildings are already under threat according to the country’s Ministry of Ecology. 

© Tom Fisk - Pexels

The quick adaptation to this problematic remains essential. The Ocean and Climate Platform calls to foster solutions inspired by nature such as wetlands, mangroves, salt marshes and seagrass meadows, natural defences which it is vital to preserve and restore.   

But first of all, members of OCP calls to develop risk culture. It is necessary to inform and raise awareness on citizens and public decision-makers but also to build a consensus between all actors to guarantee all the stakes in the best way possible. This is how, together, we will be able to face this risk, which has become very real. 

A mobilized community 

The Ocean and Climate Platform (OCP) was created on June 8th, 2014 on the occasion of the World Ocean Day. Today, it is almost 100 members gathered with the same desire: include the Ocean in climate negotiations. Indeed, before 2015, the Ocean has been absent from all climate agreements, despite that it is the planet’s main lung and is at the heart of the global climate machine. 

Among members of the OCP, a majority of associations, but also foundations, aquariums and museums, training and research institutions, companies and professional organizations, local authorities, state services and international organizations. Together, they succeed in integrating the Ocean in Paris Agreement but are still fighting for a better understanding and consideration, by both policy makers and the general public, of scientific messages on the interactions between the Ocean, climate and biodiversity.  

Despite the progress highlighted since 2015, 5 years after the Paris Agreement, there is still a long way to go. It is urgent to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reinforce efforts to adapt coastal regions to the rising sea level. We are facing a new race against time to protect the most vulnerable populations and ecosystems, starting at COP26. 


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