[COP27] United Nations Conference on Climate Change: 3 expectations of Tara Ocean Foundation

The 27th Conference of the Parties (COP) on climate change is being held from November 6 to 18 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The Tara Ocean Foundation regrets the extremely limited space that will be given to civil society during this conference.


Monday, November 7

The recent report published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announces that the policies currently in place predict a temperature rise of +2.8°C by the end of the century. To reach the +1.5°C target, emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2030. This objective cannot be the result of superficial measures taken by States, but rather of an urgent and in-depth transformation of our system.

In an ambitious and coherent vision of what this COP27 should be, Tara Ocean Foundation wishes to convey three main messages.

1- Global plastic production and climate change: an indispensable paradigm shift to reduce carbon emissions

According to current forecasts, global plastic production should at least triple by 2060. There is a strong link between plastic production and global warming. Taking into account only the extraction of petroleum resources and their transformation into plastic, this economic sector emits 1.8 billion tons of greenhouse gases, or 3.4% of global emissions. By 2050, they are expected to quadruple, reaching 15%, which will make this sector a major contributor to global warming. 

The degradation of ecosystem functioning by plastic waste and, among other things, the reduction of the capacity of living organisms to fully contribute to the natural carbon cycle, is now highlighted by several studies. This is particularly true for ocean ecosystems, which receive more than 11 million tons of plastic per year. 

Taking into account the production of plastic is an imperative for a credible strategy to reduce our carbon emissions. It implies a profound paradigm shift: drastically reducing the production of ephemeral plastics and replacing them with more virtuous economic models, but also reducing the most problematic plastics for the environment (chlorinated, perfluorinated, hydro-perfluorinated, styrenic, etc.). Finally, this requires us to rethink our collection models, with the objective of zero plastic leakage into the Ocean, and waste treatment.

2- Blue carbon and compensation of greenhouse gas emissions: remain vigilant on a use that can be assimilated to “bluewashing”

In the increasingly frequent discussions on taking into account “blue carbon“, i.e. carbon from the atmosphere that is captured and stored by various marine ecosystems (mangroves, seagrass beds, plankton), attention must be paid to the creation of future mechanisms for accounting for the tonnages of this CO2 sequestered by the Ocean. For the moment, beyond the existing models for coastal ecosystems (mangroves, seagrass beds), science is still struggling to estimate the sequestration of CO2 by planktonic ecosystems. Without a solid and complete scientific basis, the risk is to see random figures and a risk of blue washing.

We also believe that proposals to compensate for carbon emissions from activities at sea by this blue carbon should not be transformed into projects that would finance false good solutions, such as the establishment of “posidonia forests” in the Mediterranean.

3- Climate change and food security: scientific cooperation to understand and predict the consequences on key resources and better protect them

The impact of climate change is already visible on certain species that are key to the food security of a large part of the world’s population. In West Africa, the schooner Tara was passing through the Senegalese-Mauritanian upwelling. The disruption of its operation impacts the size and abundance of sardinella, the species of interest for local artisanal fisheries.

In order to take measures to adapt to these changes induced by climate disruption, we must first understand the causes and mechanisms. However, developing countries do not have the necessary resources. Research vessels, financing of equipment, training of personnel: it is urgent that developed countries contribute to financing this capacity building in developing countries. They are a sine qua non condition for the implementation of sustainable management plans and local and perennial research programs.

This effort of scientific cooperation between countries is essential for future COPs and all other negotiations on climate and biodiversity to come, for strong and binding decisions of the international community necessary to reach the +1.5°C target.

By Andre Abreu, Head for international policy, Henri Bourgeois Costa, Head of public affairs – circular economy mission and Martin Alessandrini, Advocacy project manager, Tara Ocean Foundation


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