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Author: Jess Allen, Communications Officer, NOC

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I’m Jess, a Communications Officer at NOC. I'm heading to COP as part of NOC’s COP delegation to share insight into the Ocean Pavilion and beyond. I will be updating this blog with the perspectives of those attending. 

With COP fast approaching, let's have a quick recap of what happened last year, and how it could set the pace for ocean action at this year's event.

 World leaders, leading scientists, engineers, and stakeholders will soon descend upon Dubai’s Expo City for COP28 (Conference of the Parties). As the name suggests, this will be the 28th annual COP conference which will see a collaborative effort to address and advance global climate objectives.  

Taking place from 30 November to 12 December 2023 at Expo City, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, the event promises to be a ‘milestone moment where the world will take stock of its progress on the Paris Agreement’. 

The Ocean Pavilion’s Ocean Declaration released this week emphasised the critical role the ocean plays in these discussions. The ocean regulates Earth’s climate, absorbing an incredible 90% of the excess heat and almost 30% of the excess carbon dioxide caused by human activity. As one of the world’s leading centres of expertise on the ocean’s interaction with climate change, we are partnering with leaders in ocean science, engineering, and policy to host the Ocean Pavilion in the conference’s ‘Blue Zone’ for its second year.  

What was the outcome for the ocean at COP27? 

COP27 hosted in Sharm El Sheikh marked a huge step forward in recognising the integral role of the ocean in climate solutions.  

NOC was proud to be a founding partner of the very first Ocean Pavilion which was hailed a success, attracting key figures in the industry, and raising visibility of the ocean’s role in climate change and solutions. The Ocean Pavilion hosted a full programme of panel discussions over two weeks, enabling industry leaders to come together with the shared goal of raising the profile of the ocean in the climate conversation. 

The ocean was included for the first time in the overarching COP decision, mentioned on several occasions in the COP27 implementation plan. This included highlighting “the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including in forests, the ocean and the cryosphere, and the protection of biodiversity”.  

Also part of the plan was “the need to address systematic observation gaps, particularly in developing countries and for ocean, mountain, desert and polar regions and the cryosphere in order to improve understanding of climate change, climate-related risks and tipping points, and adaptation limits and to ensure enhanced delivery of climate services and early warning systems”.  

Although this was a considerable step forward, it was clear that there is still a lot of work to do to prevent the global temperature from exceeding 1.5°C by the end of the century, a target defined by the Paris Agreement at COP21. 

Continuing the ocean momentum at COP28 

As the reigns are handed over to COP28 UAE, we will see the return of the Ocean Pavilion bringing together marine research organisations to continue the representation of the ocean in climate conversations. Organized by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Ocean Pavilion’s two weeks of events and panel discussions put a spotlight on the hottest ocean research and topics. 

Singing the Ocean Declaration 

This week, as we countdown to COP, NOC CEO Professor Ed Hill signed the Ocean Pavilion’s declaration on behalf of NOC, joining the call from dozens of marine research organisations to world leaders to take ocean action. 

The declaration calls for COP to recognise the integral role of the ocean in regulating climate change and to increase ocean observations, including expanding coverage in under-observed regions. 

In short, this means we’re asking for: 

  • Better understanding of the ocean’s role in reducing atmospheric CO2. 

  • Development of monitoring, reporting & verification systems to ensure safe & effective ocean-based CO2 removal. 

  • Scaling up of observations & science to address climate impacts on marine ecosystems. 

  • Increased capacity for island nations and developing countries to account for the ocean’s role in stabilising the climate. 

Keep an eye out for our next COP blog post where we’ll be introducing who will be representing NOC at COP28 and must-follow channels.