Reviews | COP 27: Putting the ocean at the heart of our climate strategy
Posted Nov 19, 2022 12:30 PM
I remember the observations and the promises that we made at the first climate conferences, as well as the hopes that we activated. Unfortunately, I see today that we are not up to the commitments made in 2015 in Paris during the COP21.
There is still time to limit global warming to 1.5°C – a threshold that the IPCC has shown us just how much of a limit it is beyond which the effects can spiral out of control. To do this, we absolutely must finalize the rules for applying the Paris Agreement, in particular concerning the carbon market, and specify the commitment of the States. It is urgent to develop another energy model, the only way to guarantee our common future.
A suicidal myopia
On its own scale, the Principality of Monaco is striving to do so through a proactive policy which is beginning to bear fruit. Our fleet is now mostly electric and we plan to extend this form of mobility to our entire waste collection system and our urban public transport network by 2025. With the installation of thalassothermal loops for the heating and air conditioning of the Principality’s buildings, the improvement of their energy efficiency, the elimination of fuel and the development of solar energy, Monaco has made every effort to participate in this common fight. .
At the same time, we are involving the Principality’s financial sector so that it turns to investments that meet environmental, social and good governance criteria. Beyond our borders, my government and my foundation are also taking their responsibilities, by committing to increase their investments for the climate.
With regard to the ocean, it is clear that the alarm signals are multiplying. But we often look away, no doubt because maritime issues seem more abstract. This short-sightedness is suicidal because the sea is at the heart of the climate problem, as highlighted in the IPCC’s special report on the ocean and the cryosphere. [la banquise, les glaciers… NDLR] adopted in Monaco in 2019.
Its role is essential in mitigating climate change thanks to its ability to sequester carbon. Climate changes lead to a rise in sea level, acidification of the oceans and the disruption of currents which result in the weakening of ecosystems and the displacement of species.
The potential of the ocean is immense
The deterioration in the health of the ocean, whether due to global warming or other human factors such as pollution, will increasingly prevent it from fulfilling its crucial function of regulating the climate.
The ocean can also be a source of energy. Whether offshore wind turbines, tidal turbines, thalassothermy (such as the marine heat pumps successfully installed in Monaco), wave energy or even biomass, marine energy resources have great potential. Unfortunately, they still represent only a tiny part of world production. There is also a challenge that we must take up in our energy transition ambitions.
The reflection on the future of the economy must take into account ocean issues because the potential of the blue economy is immense. It is measured in billions of euros and millions of jobs. This is particularly true in the food sector, knowing that more than three billion of us derive our main subsistence from marine resources. Over the past sixty years, this consumption has increased twice as fast as population growth. But fish stocks are declining dramatically, victims of overfishing, illegal fishing and ecosystem degradation.
One option is therefore to develop aquaculture, which represents nearly half of the world’s fish production, but which raises specific questions of sustainability. Finally, it is worth recalling the immense potential of the ocean in terms of health, such as the development of new molecules.
7% of marine surfaces are protected
Whether it is a question of health, climate, energy, food or the economy, the seas are at the heart of our future and there is still time to save them. Marine protected areas are part of the solutions to be implemented. Their effectiveness has been proven, whether it concerns the preservation of ecosystems, the restoration of biodiversity, the regeneration of fish stocks, but also the development of a more sustainable blue economy. However, only 7% of marine surfaces are currently protected, when at least 30% would be needed…
This is why, in the Mediterranean, Monaco has created, with France and Tunisia, a trust fund, the Medfund, which aims to strengthen and sustain existing marine areas, by financing new ones, supporting regional networks and stimulating state involvement.
The existing solutions, therefore, protect nature and bring progress for humanity. Today we need to develop them together within the multilateral framework to which we are attached. Only in this way can we be faithful to the commitments of the Paris Agreement, to our duty towards future generations.
HSH Prince Albert of Monaco, Honorary President of the Oceanographic Institute, Albert I Foundation