These days, with the calls for climate strikes and the studies that have been published around the United Nations Climate Action Summit, we run the risk of falling into pessimism about the climate crisis. However, the latest UN report on the state of the world’s oceans and icy areas, while not exactly optimistic, also proposes concrete solutions.
He speaks for the first time of education as one of the keys. He also talks about the inclusion of popular wisdom and indigenous peoples as one of the recipes for success in the fight to limit global warming.
Experts believe that the coming decades will be “a challenge”, but with urgent action the consequences can be mitigated. One of the keys will be adaptation, they say.
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Urgent and ambitious emission reductions
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and burning fossil fuels is key to enabling resilience and sustainable development, the report says.
“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will limit impacts on ocean ecosystems that provide us with food, support our health and shape our cultures,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II.
Reducing emissions to limit global warming is also crucial to many of the solutions outlined. For example, coral reef restoration options may be ineffective if global warming exceeds 1.5°C, because corals are already at high risk at current warming levels.
Climate education and literacy
This is the first time scientists have addressed this issue. They propose education to improve learning and the resilience of society, but also to preserve the environment, including regional climate information and knowledge systems in decision-making.
They also encourage the participation of local communities, indigenous peoples.
And they call for the promotion of climate literacy and the use of local knowledge, indigenous and scientific knowledge systems to improve public awareness, understanding and social learning about specific risks to communities.
Protected area networks
This would help to maintain the “services” provided to us by ecosystems, such as the absorption and storage of carbon dioxide, and to protect the movement of species, populations and ecosystems that will occur in response to warming oceans and rising sea levels.
However, geographical barriers, ecosystem degradation, habitat fragmentation and barriers to regional cooperation limit the potential of these networks, according to the text.
Restoration of terrestrial and marine habitats
This can improve ecosystem-based adaptation, the report says. It also advocates ecosystem management tools such as assisted species relocation and coral gardening.
He stresses the importance of using local and indigenous peoples’ knowledge, along with long-term science-based and community-supported plans.
Strengthening prevention approaches
This includes the reconstruction of overexploited or depleted fisheries. This brings benefits to regional economies and their livelihoods. Fisheries management to periodically assess and update measures over time, based on future ecosystem trends, reduces risks to fisheries but, they warn, has limited capacity to cope with ecosystem changes.
Restoration of vegetated coastal ecosystems
These are ecosystems such as mangroves, marshes and seagrass beds. They provide climate change mitigation through increased carbon absorption and storage of about 0.5% of current annual global emissions.
Better protection and management can also reduce carbon emissions from these ecosystems. There are also other benefits, such as protection from storms and heavy tides, improved water quality and benefits for biodiversity and fisheries.
Ocean Renewable Energy
There is a great deal of energy that can be extracted from marine winds, tides, waves and biofuels. Increased demand for alternative energy sources could offer economic opportunities in the renewable energy sector.
Integrated water management approaches
This refers to changes in the cryosphere in high mountain areas. The report calls for the development and optimisation of multi-purpose storage and release of water from reservoirs, taking into account possible negative effects on ecosystems and communities.
Prioritizing action for the most vulnerable
The report warns that the authorities will have to pay special attention to the most vulnerable to help them adapt, proposing to create spaces of communal participation for debate and conflict resolution.