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Ocean Pavilion Returns to UN Climate Conference and Calls On Ocean Science to Lead Climate Solutions

In year extreme weather events driven by rising marine temperatures, the ocean will take center stage at COP28 in Dubai November 30 – December 12

Ocean Pavilion graphic by ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Creative
©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Creative

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A group of the world’s leading ocean scientific, philanthropic, and other stakeholder organizations, led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, have come together to highlight the global ocean at the upcoming 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 30 – Dec. 12, 2023. The conference is expected to host over 70,000 delegates, including heads of state and world leaders, to build consensus and facilitate progress on climate action among 197 countries, the EU and thousands of non-government organizations, companies, youth groups, and other stakeholders focused on efforts to achieve the goals laid out in the Paris Agreement.

The Ocean Pavilion returns for a second year to underscore the integral role of our ocean in climate and serve as the central hub for conference delegates to exchange ideas on addressing the climate crisis by leveraging ocean science and solutions. Throughout the two-week conference, the pavilion will feature more than 80 events, meetings, and in-depth discussions that elaborate on a set of conference themes, including Rising Seas, Climate & the Living Ocean, and Blue Economy & Finance. Visitors to the pavilion will also be able to learn more about the work of Ocean Pavilion partners and to speak with scientists, thought leaders, and students engaged in the search for solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

“Recent ocean observations show that the oceans have absorbed a shocking amount of heat energy that will affect climate and ocean ecosystems for decades to come,” said Margaret Leinen, vice chancellor for Marine Sciences at UC San Diego and director of Scripps Oceanography. “We must have the capability to monitor ocean conditions if we are to understand what society and indeed, all life on Earth, is up against. It is simply not an option anymore for climate negotiators from the international community to think of ocean monitoring and protection as a mere consideration. It is now an imperative. The Ocean Pavilion is designed to make negotiators aware of this and to provide them with the evidence of these climate risks.”

“We live on an ocean planet and the ocean is central to climate resilience and mitigation,” said Peter de Menocal, WHOI President and Director. “In 2023, we experienced some of the greatest ocean and weather extremes ever recorded, underscoring the urgency of science- based decisions to protect people and the ocean ecosystems upon which we all rely. Accelerated scientific research and ocean observing innovation must lead the way to protect the health and future of our planet.”

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the world's highest decision-making body on climate issues and its annual Conference of the Parties is one of the largest international meetings in the world. The meeting is the sole venue at which world leaders and climate experts from nearly 200 countries, as well as experts and leaders in industry, trade, transportation, finance, labor, and more convene on the shared mission of meeting the commitments made under the Paris Agreement. Under that 2015 pact, countries pledged to collectively cut their greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep the planet from warming by no more than 1.5–2° C (2.7–3.6° F) relative to pre-industrial times.

As mandated by the Paris Climate Agreement, COP28 UAE will deliver the first ever Global Stocktake—a comprehensive evaluation of progress against climate goals. The UAE will lead a process for all parties to agree upon a clear roadmap to accelerate progress through a pragmatic global energy transition and a “leave no one behind approach to inclusive climate action.” By most estimates, however, the planet is already on track to exceed these limits, even with a complete phase-out of fossil fuels and other sources of greenhouse gasses.

As a result, many science and policy experts are growing increasingly vocal about the need to develop and deploy methods of removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than human activities produce, in addition to drawing down greenhouse gas emissions. This “net negative” emissions pathway relies on vastly improving knowledge about the ocean and potential impacts of continued climate change and any proposed solutions through enhanced ocean observing networks and technologies, with ocean science leading the way to ensure the efficacy of solutions being implemented are monitored, reported, and verified and the environmental impacts are fully understood.

Better knowledge about the ocean and increased capacity development can also help address a much broader array of challenges faced by people around the world, including increasingly extreme weather, food security, energy production, water management, biodiversity loss and shifting biomass, and sustainable growth. For that reason, the partners in the Ocean Pavilion are carrying their message of the ocean’s importance in all human activity and in the health of the planet.

The list of international partners at the Ocean Pavilion has grown since last year’s COP and includes a diverse collection of global leaders in a wide range of sectors from around the world. In addition to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Ocean Pavilion will be home base for a total of 35 partners, including Lead Partner Bloomberg Philanthropies; Supporting Partners Avatar Alliance Foundation, American Geophysical Union (AGU), Lloyd’s Register Foundation, OceanX, and Ocean Policy Research Institute (OPRI) of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation; and Collaborating Partners Blue Marine Foundation, Carbon to Sea Initiative, CMA CGM Group, Coral Research & Development Accelerator Platform (CORDAP), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Fugro, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR), Global ONCE, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Minderoo Foundation, National Academies Sciences, Engineering, Medicine (NASEM), National Institute for Ocean Science (IFREMER), National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (NIOF), National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Oceanography Centre (NOC), Ocean & Climate Platform, Ocean Frontier Institute, Ocean Visions, Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) / Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner (OPOC), Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Propeller Ventures, Running Tide, The French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), The Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) / IOC, and Universidade de São Paulo (USP) / São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP).

More information about the Ocean Pavilion and COP28 UAE can be found on the pavilion website and by signing up to receive email updates from COP28.

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About UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography: 

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego is one of the world’s most important centers for global earth science research and education. In its second century of discovery, Scripps scientists work to understand and protect the planet, and investigate our oceans, Earth, and atmosphere to find solutions to our greatest environmental challenges. Scripps offers unparalleled education and training for the next generation of scientific and environmental leaders through its undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs. The institution also operates a fleet of four oceanographic research vessels, and is home to Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the public exploration center that welcomes 500,000 visitors each year.

About Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution:

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930, its mission is to understand the ocean and its interactions with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate an understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. WHOI’s pioneering discoveries stem from an ideal combination of science and engineering—one that has made it one of the most trusted and technically advanced leaders in fundamental and applied ocean research and exploration anywhere. WHOI is known for its multidisciplinary approach, superior ship operations, and unparalleled deep-sea robotics capabilities. We play a leading role in ocean observation and operate the most extensive suite of ocean data-gathering platforms in the world. Top scientists, engineers, and students collaborate on more than 800 concurrent projects worldwide—both above and below the waves—pushing the boundaries of knowledge to inform people and policies for a healthier planet. Learn more at whoi.edu.

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