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USA - An Ocean and Climate Agenda for the New Administration

Climate change is having profound effects on the ocean, as scientists have extensively documented.

Coral reefs are dying, rising seas are flooding coastal communities, and fishermen are seeing their livelihoods threatened as fish seek cooler water. The ocean, however, provides opportunities to fight back. Globally, ocean-based climate solutions have the potential to provide up to one-fifth of the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions necessary to limit the world’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which scientists say is necessary to lower the risks associated with warming.

The next administration should take the following 20 steps in its first 100 days in order to recommit to climate leadership, reduce emissions and improve the United States’ climate resilience, decrease pollution and increase fuel efficiency, and protect marine life and the national ocean economy.

Numerous proposals from various organizations and Congress, listed at the end of this column, have detailed how the Biden administration can take ocean-focused climate action. They provide much of the inspiration for the following recommendations.

Recommit the United States to climate and ocean leadership

1. Rejoin the Paris Agreement

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions—especially ocean-damaging carbon dioxide—is one of the most important ways to protect the ocean and ensure that it continues to support life and livelihoods in the future. Rejoining the Paris Agreement immediately, to which President-elect Joe Biden has already committed, and formulating an ambitious national strategy to drive down carbon emissions in this crucial decade for climate action are the first steps toward rebuilding U.S. climate leadership.

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