New IPCC Report Shows Critical Need for Accelerated Climate Action and Oceans Protection

September 25, 2019

© Alexis Rosenfeld / Greenpeace

Monaco, 25 September, 2019 – The launch of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the Ocean and Cryosphere today highlights the need for governments to urgently scale up and accelerate efforts to address the climate emergency and protect the world’s oceans. 

Drawn from almost 7,000 papers by over 100 leading climate scientists, the IPCC report represents the most comprehensive assessment to date of the severity of climate impacts on our oceans and the cryosphere (frozen areas of the Earth).

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

 “The science is both chilling and compelling. The impacts of human-made carbon emissions on our oceans are on a much larger scale and happening way faster than predicted. It will require unprecedented political action to prevent the most severe consequences to our planet. 

“Climate action and building the resilience of our oceans need to go hand in hand and governments and industry know the solutions. They must take decisive steps to ditch fossil fuels and submit their national plans to stay below 1.5℃ by next year, when they will also need to deliver a strong Global Ocean Treaty capable of  protecting at least 30% of the world’s oceans as marine sanctuaries.”

The IPCC report points to some potentially irreversible changes and growing threats to the Earth’s oceans and shrinking cryosphere. It comes as Arctic sea ice levels reached their second lowest level on satellite record – some 1.3 million miles2 below the average long term minimum area.

The IPCC also presents policy solutions to help governments mitigate the worst impacts of global warming and build climate resilience. It points to the challenges of oceans and cryosphere governance systems, which remain fragmented across administrative boundaries and sectors and fail to provide effective ocean protection. 

Senior oceans campaigner, Arlo Hemphill with Greenpeace USA, said: 

“The new IPCC report presents a stark yet clear picture of the science and the scale of the climate crisis, but the political response remains too weak to effectively address the threat. Unless we aggressively divest from fossil fuels and protect key ecosystems on land and sea, we will fail to counter the worst impacts of climate change. World leaders have the opportunity now to signal their seriousness by adopting a strong Global Ocean Treaty to protect vulnerable ecosystems in the nearly 50% of the planet covered by international waters. Anything short of a mechanism capable of providing real protection to our planet’s critical carbon sinks, is a failure to respond to the millions of climate strikers around the world who came out onto the streets demanding radical change.”

“The IPCC report is another wake-up call for those governments who continue to sleepwalk through the climate crisis. The decisions that world leaders choose to make in the next few years will have profound consequences for the future of mankind in the coming centuries.”

In other findings, the IPCC report found:

  • That sea-level rise by 2100 could be close to 3.4 feet if global warming reaches above 3 °C, which is where the current global government policies are heading to. This could result in the displacement of millions of people from coastal areas. 
  • As sea surface temperatures increase and as oceans become more acidic, marine life and ocean ecosystems will suffer major challenges. Even if global warming is limited to the agreed target of 1.5°C, it is projected that up to 90% of warm water coral reefs will be lost.  
  • Widespread permafrost thaw is projected for this century and beyond releasing 1460-1600 Gigatons of greenhouse gases, equivalent to almost twice the carbon currently in the atmosphere.
  • By the end of this century, the frequency of marine heatwaves could increase 50-fold (under temperature increases of 3-4 °C) compared with the end of the 19th century. 

ENDS

Photos can be accessed here

Notes:

Greenpeace International has produced a detailed media briefing analysing the IPCC’s findings. This briefing can be found here.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center has just called the Arctic Sea Ice Minimum extent for 2019. It is 4.15 million square kilometers (1.6 million square miles). 

Contact: 

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

Greenpeace USA, Crystal Mojica, cmojica@greenpeace.org, + 646-530-1581 

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

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