Our Ambition is for the UK to be Net Zero by 2030
What is the cause?
The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas has released large volumes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, intensifying the greenhouse gas effect and causing the earth’s average temperature to increase. Whilst the destruction of vital carbon sinks such as rainforests and kelp forests has decreased the absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere and also released carbon stores.
Human-induced climate change is caused by an exacerbation of the greenhouse gas effect, where increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations trap the heat from the sun and cause a rise in the global temperature.
CO2 levels have risen dramatically since the industrial revolution and are 50% higher than pre-industrial levels due to the burning of fossil fuelsi. Carbon emissions are driven by different sectors across the world and different countries, individuals and organisations have varying carbon footprints. For example, developed and rapidly developing countries have the highest carbon footprint and small-island nations have the lowest. However, it will be developing countries feeling the effects of climate change the most as they are less likely to be able to adapt.
Carbon sinks such as kelp forests and rainforests forests play a key role in the regulation of CO2 levels through photosynthesis where they have trapped carbon for millions of years. The removal of these habitats due to intensive agriculture, overfishing and dredging has meant less CO2 is being absorbed from the atmosphere. It has also meant carbon stores have been released.
What needs to change?
To reverse the ocean climate crisis, we need urgent and drastic reduction in carbon dioxide emissions as well as the rapid embracing of nature-based solutions to limit carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. Our ambition is for the UK to be net zero carbon by 2030. We are calling for:
1. Legislation and government policy that achieves net zero by 2030
- We need ambitious targets to reach net zero carbon by 2030. The government’s current target to reach net zero by 2050 does not reflect the urgency at which we need to address the climate crisis. The Covid-19 crisis has shown that governments and businesses can mobilise quickly in the face of a crisis. The climate crisis threatens humanity at a greater level.
- We need a clear, overarching and ambitious action plan to reach net zero
- Without a clear detailed roadmap which puts climate change at the centre of decision making across government there is little chance of the UK reaching net zero.
2. Ocean rewilding to remove carbon from the atmosphere
- We need to recognise the intrinsic link between the ecological and climate crisis and invest in ocean rewilding to allow natural ecosystems to actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to achieve negative carbon emissions.
- Ocean habitats such as kelp forests and sea grass meadows can sequester up to 20 times more carbon per acre than land forests by providing places were biodiversity can flourish.
3. A blue ‘bounce back’ from COVID-19, putting the ocean and all-natural environments at the centre of recovery
- We need economic stimulus packages that support sustainable industries with a focus on investing in renewable energies and projects which store blue carbon.
- We need to prevent bail-outs that maintain and perpetuate polluting industries.
What is SAS doing?
Together with our network of ocean activists, we must ensure the voice of the ocean is heard within the climate crisis. We will raise awareness of the effect climate change is having on the ocean, and champion the oceans role as a key tool in tackling climate change.
Since 2006, we have been an active member of The Climate Coalition. Through The Climate Coalition, we have helped influence UK Government decisions in recent years such as the pledge to phase out coal power stations in 2015 and ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016.
WE ARE DECLARING AN OCEAN AND CLIMATE EMERGENCY!
As we step into the United Nations Ocean Decade and we are now left with only 10 years to reverse the damage humans have inflicted on our blue planet. Alongside the destruction caused by deep-sea mining, unsustainable fishing and pollution; climate change is causing ocean temperatures and acidity levels to rise dramatically. The ocean is on fire.
But the ocean also has a crucial role to play in tackling the climate crisis. From seagrass meadows and kelp forests that lock carbon deep below the sea floor to ocean currents that regulating global temperatures, the ocean can provide vital solutions. We need governments around the world to recognise the ocean’s pivotal role in the climate crisis.
So today, we have launched the Ocean and Climate Petition. We are calling on the UK Government to ensure the ocean is at the centre of climate conversations at the 26th UN Climate Conference (COP26) in November; and we need you to join the call for action.
Our newly-released Ocean and Climate Report highlights that the extent of the ocean and climate crisis has not gone unnoticed by you, the British public. Our recent Ocean and Climate Survey revealed, that you do not think enough is being done to tackle the climate crisis, as 99% of respondents agreed more action needs to be taken and 96% believe the government must take-action urgently. Now is the time to make your voice heard!
The petition aims to highlight the importance of a thriving ocean, for the people and planet, and calls on the government to utilise the ocean’s capacity as a solution to the climate crisis, through increased investment in ocean rewilding and implementation of Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs). Targeted at the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, we aim to influence the direction of the COP26 talks by generating 80,000 signatures, from the general public and school pupils. Find out more about the petition here.
The global economic breakdown, caused by COVID-19, has provided governments with a unique opportunity to rebuild the economy with the environment and people at the forefront of its plans. As the Hosts of COP26, the spotlight will focus on the UK government to become climate leaders and showcase their commitment to restoring our blue planet.
As much as we depend on all blue spaces for our survival, including our mental and physical wellbeing, the ocean now depends on us; and we must come together to shout for the ocean, before it is too late.
Hugo Tagholm, CEO, Surfers Against Sewage:
“Ocean ecosystems are not only on the front line of the accelerating impacts of climate change but also can become the front line of slowing and reversing runaway global heating. The ocean is the thermostat of the global climate system and must be urgently prioritised for action, as world leaders meet for COP26.
The ocean provides us with a unique opportunity to remove human pressures and let nature do the heavy-lifting to combat climate change. Carbon-absorbing ecosystems can re-establish themselves to allow biodiversity to flourish and draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Business as usual has failed both people and planet, and we’re now in a race against time to restore a thriving ocean, the life-support system we all depend on.
We are in an Ocean and Climate Emergency and we call on politicians to move from rhetoric to action, from statements to solutions. We don’t have any time left to waste.”
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