Making the oceans essential for climate action: TERI

Sharm el-Sheikh, Highlighting the growing consensus that the oceans are central to climate negotiations, a new policy brief from the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) was launched at an official United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) side event at COP27 here, highlighted the need for clear targets and indicators, as well as institutional and enforcement mechanisms to guide ocean-climate action.

The policy brief “Ocean-Climate Interface: Implications for Climate Action Based on the Global Commons” was launched on Wednesday during a session on climate action through innovation, implementation and Multilevel Inclusive Governance”, organized by TERI and the TERI School of Advanced Studies in collaboration with the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, Japan, and Indigenous Information NetworkKenya.

The knowledge document was produced as part of the COP27 Compass component of the Act4Earth initiative launched at the World Sustainable Development Summit in 2022. During the launch in Sharm el-Sheikh, Shailly Kedia, Senior Fellow, TERI, presented the Act4Earth policy briefs on the COP27 negotiations, the internationalization of lifestyles for the environment, the inclusive energy transitions and the ocean-climate interface.

The world’s largest known carbon sink, the oceans, were largely omitted from climate change negotiations until COP21 in 2015.

The policy brief focuses on the global commons of marine areas beyond national jurisdiction and climate action, and examines the interface between climate and ocean governance.

“The oceans have long been neglected in climate change negotiations, even though the UNFCCC has clearly identified its role as the planet’s most important carbon sink. The patchwork of existing agreements on the high seas, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), barely address the role of the high seas in relation to climate change,” said Prodipto GhoshEmeritus Member, TERI.

The policy brief highlights gaps in the climate-ocean interface and examines it through the lens of the global commons. Global commons are areas of resources that do not fall under the jurisdiction of a single country, and their governance remains controversial since no single state or region has full responsibility for them.

Highlighting the shortcomings of the current climate regime, Kedia said: “Because climate negotiations are party-driven, climate actions in national jurisdictions have received greater attention and the global commons, including oceans , have not been a priority area in terms of climate ambition and action. ”

She underscored the need for greater interactions between the climate regime and the ocean regime involving the UNFCCC and UNCLOS.

The knowledge paper observes that ocean equity issues are often not explicitly stated. “It is an undeniable fact that so far, the distribution of benefits from the oceans has been inequitable and the economy of the oceans has mainly benefited wealthy nations and corporations,” he notes.

While the oceans have helped slow the rate of climate change by acting as a carbon sink, climate change impacts such as acidification, warming, altered circulation patterns and sea level rise also affected him deeply.


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