The Ocean cannot afford the temperature rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius and is an integral part of our climate discussions, stressed Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi at a high-level panel discussion event in Katowice, Poland. The meeting was held as a side event on "Understanding the Ocean and Climate Crosswalk - a Pacific Perspective" while COP24 negotiations were underway.
According to a recent report (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report) if global temperatures exceeded 1.5 degrees Celsius, it would severely degrade coral reefs – compromising fishery resources and coastline protection. A rise in the temperature of the ocean would also result in extreme weather events, sea level rise, slowed economic growth and loss of biodiversity.
"We cannot speak about the ocean in isolation, as it is an integral part of our climate discussions, and Ocean and Climate Action are two sides of the same coin", said PM Malielegaoi.
"For our Blue Pacific continent, it is a risk we cannot afford," he added.
The concerned PM also emphasized that global warming would affect everyone not just Small Islands Developing States.
UNSG’s Special Envoy on Ocean Ambassador Peter Thomson acknowledged that Pacific people were the first to feel the impacts of global warming. He said that the linkage between ocean and climate is recognised and the next COP25 negotiations is being tagged “Ocean COP”.
Norway's representative Mr Borsting said that better solutions needed to be found in the climate and ocean nexus, both in mitigation and adaptation, and partnerships in the Pacific region were crucial in making progress to that effect.
Conservation International President Jennifer Morris also joined the discussion saying regional cooperation was needed since there was more that needed to be done in ocean and climate change.
"As an NGO the opportunities to bring financial and technical resources needed to support Pacific Islands countries individual and collective aspirations and efforts is crucial.”
The high-level panel discussion side event was attended by UNSG's Special Envoy on Ocean Ambassador Peter Thomson, Kingdom of Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Policy Director Georg Borsting, Conservation International President Jennifer Morris, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Director General Kosi Latu, Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation, President Sandeep Chauhan and Dena Seidel, Okeanos Foundation's chief operating officer.
Pacific Islands Forum Deputy Secretary General Cristelle Pratt facilitated the event on behalf of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Secretary General – Dame Meg Taylor.