Oceana Says Ocean Solutions Can Jump-Start Climate Action
Press Release Date: November 5, 2021
Location: GLASGOW, Scotland
Oceana, the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation, is in Glasgow this week for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) to stress that stopping new ocean oil drilling and reducing unnecessary plastic production are key solutions to jump-start climate action. Oceana says world leaders must take critical steps to move away from polluting fossil fuels and toward clean, renewable energy sources like offshore wind.
“Our leaders have been ‘talking’ about climate change for decades, without meaningful action. To continue expanding dirty and dangerous offshore drilling when there needs to be less fossil fuels used, not more, defies common sense,” said Jacqueline Savitz, chief policy officer for North America at Oceana. “Climate change is here, now, in our backyard, and it’s causing more devastating hurricanes, deadly wildfires, crippling drought, and extreme heat waves. Every day that goes by solidifies a daunting and dangerous fate not just for future generations but for people everywhere as we speak.”
Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report, warning that unless policymakers immediately and drastically shift away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy like offshore wind, they are consigning us and future generations to an unlivable future.
“This is only going to get worse. And our leaders are allowing it to happen,” Savitz said. “The fossil fuel industry’s tight grip on our politicians has continued to block meaningful policies that could have protected our climate future and prevented these disasters. These industries use and abuse our shared resources, and often receive government handouts to do so, leaving communities to clean up the mess and taxpayers to foot the bill.”
Our oceans provide us with an invaluable service by absorbing much of the carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere, as well as the heat that goes with it. But this carbon dioxide is making them warmer and more acidic, killing corals and other marine life in the process, Oceana said. Oil production is energy intensive and generates greenhouse gas pollutants like carbon dioxide and methane during every step of the process from exploration to extraction and consumption.
“Today there’s more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than has ever been recorded in human history,” Savitz said. “The logical first step in addressing the climate crisis is to scale back the activities that are causing it, not to expand them. The U.S. can be a leader on this. President Biden and members of Congress must ensure that permanent protection from new offshore drilling is included in the Build Back Better Act, which could be voted on as early as this week.”
The petrochemical industry is also contributing to the climate crisis in the form of plastics, Oceana said. In fact, if plastic were a country, it would be the fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.
“Plastic production is set to triple by 2050, possibly tripling its greenhouse gas emissions at the same time,” Savitz said. “Until world leaders acknowledge plastic’s growing role in the climate crisis and address it, this problem is only going to get worse. Some companies are paving a path forward by turning to reusable and refillable alternatives — multinational corporations can do the same on a larger scale. But companies must be required to stop producing so much unnecessary single-use plastic and instead provide consumers with plastic-free choices.”
Oceana said that ocean-based solutions can jump-start climate action, both by avoiding greenhouse gas emissions associated with offshore fossil fuel development and plastic production, as well as by delivering carbon-free clean energy. For example, in the United States, offshore wind has the potential to generate more electricity than the nation currently demands.
“It’s clear that our oceans hold pivotal and impactful solutions to address the climate crisis,” Savitz said. “The oceans offer us achievable first steps that can start our planet’s recovery on a promising path.”