That the world’s oceans are in a increasingly precarious position seems to be old news at this point. However, a new climate report not only underscores this point but also indicates that if we continue with business as usual we may soon reach a tipping point from where it is difficult to return the ecosystem to balance.
In many ways the report reiterates many of the points that have been mentioned over the last decade, with the key point being that the world ocean’s are being altered due to climate change. Historically the main problem that warmer oceans have been associated with has been the melting of the ice caps, leading to excessive and more frequent flooding in coastal areas due to rising sea levels. However, the ripple effects will cause a dramatic and damaging impact to a long list of areas including the global supply of seafood, increasing the frequency and severity of cyclones, reducing the availability of drinking water from glaciers. The exact result is extremely difficult to predict, however the consensus of the report is that it will likely pose a significant threat to the hundreds of millions of people living near the world’s coastlines.
According to the report the crux of the issue lies with the ever increasing rate at which the worlds economy produces greenhouse gas (GHG) emission. Ever since the landmark Paris agreement in 2020, there have been a worrying growth in GHG emissions above and beyond the goal, and while positive actions have accelerate they have fallen short of the necessary transformation. Some promising signs are however appearing around the globe, but a significant step change is required to correct the course towards a sustainable long-term path. The report estimates that the majority of new GHG emissions is likely to come from developing nations as they switch to consumption patterns similar to the developed world. They are however also among the front runners when it comes to revising plans for combating climate change over the next decade. This is especially true for some of the nations that are set to be impacted the most by climate change.
The timing of the report is impeccable almost colliding with Greta Thunberg’s highly publicized speech to the UN, urging world leaders to take action to reverse climate change.
112 nations, representing 53% of the global GHG emissions, have signaled intent to further revist their climate plans and further increase focus on reducing GHG emissions, of which a substantial amount are developing nations. Industrialized nations are more focusing on what is termed long-term strategies to radically shift the energy mix away from fossil fuel and towards more sustainable alternatives.
“I want to hear about how we are going to stop the increase in emissions by 2020, and dramatically reduce emissions to reach net-zero emissions by midcentury.”UN Secretary General António Guterres
The report was written by more than 100 experts from around the world and is based on over 7000 studies, and as such represents one of the most comprehensive scientific studies of the effect of climate change.