Matthew Morgan / Island Conservation Society

World - Ocean Protections Increasingly Seen as Key to Countering Climate Change

As science advances, more governments leverage safeguards to support Paris Agreement goals

Among the starkest effects of climate change are those occurring in our ocean, from mass coral bleaching events and shifting fish migrations to the spawning of record-intensity hurricanes—all of which can affect people’s lives along the coast and far inland. The 2019 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate highlighted the scale and pace of change in our ocean and its effect on people and biodiversity.

Fortunately, scientists and policy makers are increasingly seeing the ocean as a potential solution to climate change, not solely as evidence of these global shifts. Specifically, research is showing that stronger coastal and marine protections could play a role in helping to address and shield against the impacts of climate change. In a move that could help science better inform policy, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will host an Ocean and Climate Dialogue on Dec. 2-3, where nature-based solutions—actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore ecosystems—will be high on the list of potential actions to counter the growing threat of climate change.

Studies show that healthy coastal habitats such as mangroves, seagrass beds, and salt marshes—collectively, coastal wetlands—can mitigate climate change if sufficiently protected and help governments achieve their goals under the Paris Agreement.

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