Current emission reduction pledges under the 2015 Paris Agreement are insufficient to keep global temperature “well below +2°C” in 2100 relative to pre-industrial levels and to reach targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Increased political ambition is therefore required, as well as enhanced efforts in terms of both mitigation and ecosystem and human adaptation. There is growing evidence high- lighting both the role the ocean plays in mitigating anthropogenic climate change (i.e., absorption of atmospheric heat and anthropogenic carbon), and the cascading consequences on its chemistry and physics (i.e., ocean warming, acidification, deoxygenation, sea-level rise), ecosystems and ecosystem services. In such a context, a critical question arises: what are the ocean-based opportunities for climate action? In other words, what is the potential of the ocean and its ecosystems to reduce the causes of climate change and its impacts?

This document summarises the main findings of The Ocean Solutions Initiative1 that assessed the potential of 13 ocean-based measures.

Key messages

  • Several ocean-based measures are available to reduce both climate change and its impacts on the open-ocean and coastal ecosystems, suggesting that the international community working on the ocean, from institutions to the private sector, can play a significant role in both adaptation and mitigation.
  • All measures have limitations and trade- offs. Despite a large theoretical potential to address the global problem, several global scale measures exhibit too many uncertain- ties and/or risks of negative collateral effects to be recommended for large-scale deploy- ment. In contrast, most local measures are low-regret options but are far less effective to address the large-scale challenge.
  • Decisions to implement any measure have to consider multiple criteria such as potential effectiveness, feasibility, co-benefits, disben- efits, cost effectiveness, and governability.
  • Greatest benefit is derived from the combi- nation of global and local solutions, some of which can be scaled-up immediately.
  • Multiple-scale actions call for a coordinated and collaborative international response.




Ocean for Climate, by the Ocean Solutions Initiative


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