Confronting Climate Change

Taking the ocean into account is critical for successfully addressing climate change, and addressing climate change is critical for the future of the ocean.

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Confronting Climate Change

Ocean Conservancy envisions a healthy future for our ocean and the communities that rely on it, free from greenhouse gas pollution and resilient to the climate impacts we can no longer avoid. To help achieve this vision, we create sustainable ocean-based climate solutions, work with all levels of government to implement these solutions and help build demand for climate action. We are bringing the power of the ocean to the global fight against climate change.

 

Take action for the ocean today

Make a pledge to our ocean—a promise that you will do whatever you can to preserve, protect and defend the ocean. Enforce accountability of legislators, decision makers and regulators as they make choices that impact ocean health.

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The Problem

The ocean has protected us from the worst effects of climate change. From the beginning of industrialization until today, the ocean has absorbed more than 90 percent of the heat from human-caused global warming and about one-third of our carbon emissions. But we are now seeing the devastating effects of that heat and carbon dioxide.

The ocean is too big to ignore. A range of climate impacts—including ocean acidification, sea-level rise, and stronger and more frequent hurricanes—are damaging our coastal industries and communities. Moreover, these ocean-climate impacts disproportionately harm communities of color, Indigenous communities, poor communities and others that are historically underserved and underrepresented.

There is more than our own wellbeing at risk—ocean ecosystems and wildlife are also at stake. Coral reefs are dying off and could be eradicated completely by the end of the century; the essential sea ice of the Arctic is disappearing, threatening Arctic animals and ecosystems; and even fish will decline as their populations shrink and move in search of cooler water.

We are in danger of losing what makes the ocean such an important and special place to so many of us, who rely on it for livelihoods, food, recreation and moments of wonder. Although climate action and ocean conservation efforts historically have been separated, we cannot save the ocean without acting on climate change, and we cannot confront the climate crisis without considering the ocean.

Our Solution

In order to protect our communities, ocean and planet, we must work to limit global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-Industrial temperatures. This means reducing greenhouse gas pollution—including carbon dioxide emissions, which cause not only warming but also ocean acidification—to net-zero no later than 2050. And, as our society shifts away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy, we must ensure a just transition for impacted communities, workers and cultures.

Gwynne Taraska

“The ocean is a victim of the climate crisis but also a key part of the solution. In order to protect our communities, ocean and planet, we must reduce greenhouse gas pollution to net-zero no later than 2050.”

Gwynne Taraska
Climate Program Director

With diminishing time to address the climate crisis, we need to reduce greenhouse gas pollution across every sector, from electricity and transportation to buildings and agriculture. In this context, it is important to remember that the ocean is not just a victim of climate change but also a key part of the solution. From reducing emissions from shipping and ports to scaling up well-sited offshore renewable energy, we can look to ocean industries to contribute a range of sustainable climate measures.

Take action for the ocean today

Make a pledge to our ocean—a promise that you will do whatever you can to preserve, protect and defend the ocean. Enforce accountability of legislators, decision makers and regulators as they make choices that impact ocean health.

Take Action

Be a part of our solution

Donate now to help us continue our research into the impacts of the climate crisis on our ocean systems. Or even better, consider becoming a monthly donor, and support our ongoing efforts best incorporate this insight into advocacy, policy and mitigation strategies.

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