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The Ocean as a Solution to Climate Change: Updated Opportunities for Action

Ocean Panel report finds seven actionable ocean-based climate solutions that could cut the emissions gap by 35% in a 1.5°C pathway in 2050.


The ocean is a cornerstone of Earth's life support system, essential for maintaining biodiversity, social prosperity, and human well-being.

Despite its well-documented and multifaceted importance, the ocean is under siege from many threats (overexploitation, pollution, land cover change, invasive species, climate change, etc.). These pressures endanger the ocean's functioning and have cascading effects on global climate patterns, biodiversity, economic stability, and human health and well-being. Once considered an inexhaustible resource, the ocean is declining in health, which poses a direct risk to all forms of life on Earth.

With the extreme heat and weather events experienced worldwide in 2023, the UN Secretary General has stated that the era of ‘global boiling’ is upon us. Urgent action is needed to address both the causes of climate change and its impact on the ocean’s health.

The report

A Special Report commissioned by the Ocean Panel is asking the world to see the ocean not as a victim of climate change, but a solution. Findings from the team of expert authors (including SDR Hub Director, Eliza Northrop) underscore that a healthy ocean is critical to achieve global targets to limit climate change. The report also demonstrates that the journey to a sustainable ocean can begin today with seven ocean-based actions that are ready to implement.

Source: Ocean Panel

Key findings

  • Ocean-based climate action could close the emissions gap by as much as 35% in a 1.5°C pathway in 2050, based on solutions that are ready to implement.
  • To halt the worst impacts of climate change, policymakers, governments, and civil society groups must include ocean policy in climate action. Solutions also require greater engagement and coordination across businesses and industry, inclusion of communities and stakeholders and robust monitoring and evaluation.
  • Emerging technologies such as ocean-based carbon dioxide removal could offer even greater emissions reductions, however further technological development and research into potential impacts is needed before these can be considered as viable, ready-to-implement solutions.
  • The ocean can provide solutions that are viable and ready-to-implement to help ‘correct the course’ on climate change.

Summary video by Ocean Panel.

What’s needed now is action to deliver these solutions and significant levels of investment to make it possible - before we run out of time.

Watch the Report Launch Event

Report Launch Event by Ocean Panel.