One Ocean Summit

Posted on February 20th 2022

On 9th February world leaders, environmental campaigners and scientists met in France for a three day conference called One Ocean Summit.

What is the Ocean Summit?

The summit was hosted by the French president Emmanuel Macron. It was the first event of its kind, and its aim was to raise awareness of threats to the worlds oceans, and discuss possible solutions.

The new ocean summit differs from the COP summits as it only focusses on issues relating to the worlds oceans, whereas COP is about global climate change.

The principal aim of the Ocean Summit was to have participating countries agree on taking action to improve the health of the world’s oceans, and protect marine habitats.

What are the issues?

Oceans cover 70% of the worlds surface. There are several known threats to our oceans. Global warming has and is continuing to raise the temperature of the water, and the water is becoming more acidic, both of which make it difficult for certain marine life to survive. In addition, pollution is another huge problem, which includes plastic pollution, raw sewage and chemical pollution, and noise and light pollution. All types of pollution are damaging to the flora and fauna that live in the oceans. Overfishing is another big issue. Our appetite for certain fish is pushing those species to the brink of survival which has an impact on other animals that eat them. Essentially we need to restore balance to the ocean food chain.

Why is it important?

All marine life should be protected so as to maintain it and not lose it. Many communities rely on fishing as a trade so we need to ensure there is a more balanced fishing trade so as to sustain it for future generations. The oceans energy also offers us a source of renewable energy generated through wave power, so we need to maintain it so as to harness that energy. Also the ocean has an important part to play with global warming as it is key to the global carbon cycle. The ocean removes about half of the extra carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is still rising. Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases that stops heat escaping from the planet. More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, means more heat trapped, resulting in an increase in temperature – this is contributing to climate change.

What did the summit achieve?

Over 55 countries took part. New commitments to improving ocean health were announced. A worldwide treaty to get rid of single use plastic will be created by France and the US. In addition, 43 countries agreed to reach a deal to protect the high seas (parts of the ocean not linked to a particular country). There was also a pledge to create more marine protection zones. However not everyone felt enough detail or commitment was given. Greenpeace were vocal in saying that further action is needed rather than vague promises.

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