The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has today issued its Special Report on the impact of climate change on oceans and the cryosphere – the frozen parts of our planet. The report provides policy-makers across the globe with a strong scientific basis for their efforts to modernise the economy, tackle climate change and address its impacts on the oceans, promote sustainable development and eradicate poverty.
Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete for Climate Action and Energy, Commissioner Karmenu Vella for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and Commissioner Carlos Moedas for Research, Science and Innovation welcome the report, considering it a wake-up call for the global community to tackle climate change and its impacts on oceans as soon as possible.
“The conclusions of this new report are clear: human-induced global warming is drastically changing our oceans. They are heating up, becoming more acidic, contain less oxygen. Sea levels are rising much faster than anticipated.
The effects of this changing environment are devastating for fragile marine ecosystems such as coral reefs, seagrass meadows or kelp forests. The food security of people depending on fisheries is at risk. Coastal communities will have to face more frequent extreme events, such as marine heatwaves and flooding.
However, healthy oceans can also provide some of the solutions to climate change by capturing most of the excess heat and CO2 produced by our modern society, and by providing sustainable food and renewable energy.
Oceans can only remain healthy if we limit global warming to 1.5°C. The EU therefore continues to urge for an ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement. In November 2018, the EU has already presented its strategy to become a zero carbon economy by 2050 and this report is another urgent call for action, showing how important it is to proceed without hesitation on that path.
The EU is also already taking action to address the link between climate change and the oceans through its Ocean Governance strategy. The Commission has also launched a Research and Innovation Mission on Healthy Oceans to deliver the solutions to preserve these precious eco-systems.
This IPPC report gives us the undeniable facts, the scientific evidence, of how our climate is changing and how it affects each of us. It is up to us as politicians to translate these facts into action."
About the EU, climate change and oceans
Under the Paris Agreement on climate change, the EU has committed to a cut of at least 40% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This is an investment in our prosperity and the sustainability of the European economy. The EU has put in place a modern and advanced regulatory framework for the clean energy transition, delivering on the Juncker Commission's objective to become a global leader in renewables and to put energy efficiency first. For example, by 2030, 32% of the EU's energy consumption will come from renewables. With these measures currently in place, the EU is even set to overachieve this target and reduce its emissions by 45%. This includes ocean energy, from wind, waves or tides. The EU is the global leader in ocean energy technologies.
Other measures linked to climate and the oceans include the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). MPAs support climate change adaptation and mitigation while providing other ecosystem services. They protect coastal habitats (coral reefs, mangroves, wetlands), reduce human exposure to climate change risks and act as natural infrastructure (e.g. storm protection). In 2018, the EU has achieved the UN target of protecting 10% of its waters as MPA, two years ahead of the 2020 deadline.
About the IPCC
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body responsible for assessing the science related to climate change. Its reports are based mainly on peer-reviewed and published scientific and technical literature and bring together hundreds of leading experts from around the world.