Major IPCC report to highlight climate threats to the world’s oceans and frozen regions

Monaco – A stark warning on the state of the world’s oceans and frozen areas is expected from a landmark UN report, highlighting the urgent need for a global treaty to allow large-scale protection of the oceans. The process of finalising the UN Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) starts tomorrow in Monaco, ahead of its launch by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on 25 September. 

The report, based on analysis of climate data by hundreds of leading international scientists, is the most comprehensive assessment to date of the current and future impacts of climate change on our oceans and cryosphere (areas of frozen water and land in the icy polar or high-mountain regions). 

Greenpeace International scientist, Melissa Wang, said: 

“We expect the IPCC report to confirm our worst fear – the climate crisis is an oceans crisis. Some of the impacts of climate change on our oceans are now irreversible and others are looking increasingly inevitable.”

“At current emissions rates, we are effectively dumping one million tonnes of CO2 into the oceans every hour. Unless we accelerate efforts to curb carbon emissions and take greater steps to protect our oceans, there will be devastating human, environmental and economic consequences.”

The oceans play a critical role in sustaining life on Earth. Together with ice-caps, they are vital in regulating the temperature of our planet, taking up 90% of excess heat in the system. As well as absorbing 20-30% of carbon from the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans provide or regulate much of our planet’s rainwater, drinking water, food and weather systems. 

The IPCC report assesses changes related to ice in the Arctic and Antarctic regions; the status of glaciers, permafrost and snow in high mountain areas; and sea level rise and its implications for low lying islands, coasts and communities. It also looks at the impact of warming seas and ocean acidification on ecosystems, fisheries and livelihoods in different regions and presents scenarios around the future frequency and intensity of tropical storms and marine heatwaves. 

The report’s summary will be negotiated as climate strikers around the world take to the streets demanding governments act with greater urgency in tackling the climate emergency. At the same time, heads of state are meeting in New York for a Climate Summit.

Taehyun Park, global climate political advisor with Greenpeace East Asia, said: 

“This report will be another cry for governments to act on the climate emergency – NOW. It is critical that they ramp up their climate ambitions to half greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade, and reach net zero by 2050.” 

“Climate breakdown coupled with over exploitation by humans is pushing our blue planet to the verge of collapse, we need a strong Global Ocean Treaty agreed at the UN next year which leads to the creation of marine sanctuaries, placing 30% of our oceans off-limits to human activities.”

Greenpeace is an accredited observer to the IPCC. A small delegation will be attending the 51st Session of the IPCC in Monaco from September 20-25, to participate in the final review process of the IPCC Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere. 

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For more information, please contact: 

Marie-Christine Fiset, Head of Media, Greenpeace Canada

mfiset@greenpeace.org ; +1 514 400-3256

 

Patrick Fuller, press officer, Greenpeace UK: Patrick.fuller@greenpeace.org +44 7377730878 (onsite in Monaco) 

Greenpeace International Press Desk: +31 (0)20 718 2470 (available 24 hours), pressdesk.int@greenpeace.org

Photos can be accessed here