Conservation & Science

The world is taking climate action at COP23

wsi-imageoptim-cop23The ocean is about to take center stage at the United Nations’ annual climate change conference in Bonn, Germany. November 11 is officially Oceans Action Day at COP23, when leaders of government, businesses and organizations around the world turn their attention to the sea that covers more than 70% of our planet.

Speakers at the international gathering will discuss how carbon emissions from human activities are changing the world’s ocean (and not for the good)—including impacts on marine wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture, and coastal communities. They’ll also explore science-based solutions, such as ramped-up development of renewable energy and ecosystem-based adaptation to the changes already underway.

Ocean Action Day includes a program at the U.S. Climate Action Center—the largest pavilion at the climate talks. Michael Bloomberg (the former mayor of New York City and a U.N. Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change) and California Gov. Jerry Brown will release a new “America’s Pledge” report detailing what U.S. states, cities, and businesses are doing to keep the U.S. on track to meet its Paris Agreement carbon reduction goals. They will be joined by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Laura Phillips, Senior VP of Sustainability for Walmart, to discuss specific actions to meet the emission targets established under the Paris Agreement.

Bikes lined up outside COP23 in Bonn, Germany. Photo by UNClimateAction via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


The day will conclude with a signing ceremony for the “Because the Ocean Declaration,” an effort led by Chile, urging nations of the world to protect the ocean as they map paths toward implementing the breakthrough Paris Agreement—the commitment, adopted two years ago by nearly every nation in the world, to reduce our emissions of heat-trapping gases. The island nation of Fiji is also leading a collaborative effort, called the Ocean Pathway Partnership, to give the ocean the prominent place it deserves in the U.N.’s ongoing climate conversations.

California Gov. Jerry Brown delivers remarks at a state climate symposium in 2014. Brown is part of a U.S. delegation committed to progress under the Paris Agreement. Photo by CA Air Resources Board via CC BY 2.0

West Coast leadership 

The International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification, a group of governments and organizations—including the Monterey Bay Aquarium—is taking action to protect our coasts and communities from the harmful effects of ocean acidification, caused by CO2 emissions. On November 13, the Alliance will host a side event in Bonn to announce new members and commitments from world leaders. Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Oregon Governor Kate Brown are among the speakers.

It’s worth noting that the governors of all three U.S. West Coast states have a strong presence at the conference, as part of a delegation of governors in the U.S. Climate Alliance. California Gov. Jerry Brown—named Special Advisor for States and Regions ahead of COP23—is participating in more than two dozen events to combat what he has called the “existential crisis” of global climate change.

A wild sea nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens) swims in Monterey Bay Photo ©Monterey Bay Aquarium/Steve Webster
Wild sea nettle jelly. Photo by Steven Webster

One of the most hopeful events of COP23 will be the delivery of “We Are Still In,” a declaration by over 2,500 U.S.-based signatories, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium, representing more than 130 million Americans in pursuit of climate action. This petition, pledging a continued commitment to reduce emissions under the Paris Agreement, will be delivered to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat on Nov. 15.  

At the Aquarium, we’re still in to take climate action for the ocean. We hope you’ll join us!

Featured image: Children participate in the welcome ceremony for COP23, the 2017 U.N. Conference on Climate Change, in Bonn, Germany. Photo by UNClimateChange via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Learn more about what climate change has to do with the ocean, and what you can do about it, at


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