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Climate’s Catch-22: Ocean’s health = people’s wealth
We can’t have a healthy planet without a healthy ocean. That is why sustainable finance for the sustainable blue economy is of vital importance to us all.
A guest blog by Chris Gorell Barnes, founding partner, Ocean 14 Capital
On Jane Fraser’s first day as chief executive officer at Citigroup, she announced plans to achieve net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions in the bank’s financing activities by 2050. Finance has finally caught up to climate’s threat to the stability of the financial system.
Yet despite the fact that the oceans cover some 71% of the planet, produce at least 50% of the oxygen, and are the main source of protein for more than 1bn people, few leaders seem to have grasped the fact that climate and oceans are inextricably linked.
Speaking at the Sustainable Finance Forum in Abu Dhabi, Peter Thomson, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, said: “We can’t have a healthy planet without a healthy ocean. That is why sustainable finance for the sustainable blue economy is of vital importance to us all.”
Statistics from the 2015 report “Reviving the Ocean Economy: The Case for Action” make the most powerful case. The value of the ocean’s asset base is US$24trn, while the annual value of goods and services produced from ocean-related economic activities is US$2.5trn, which makes the ocean equivalent to the seventh largest economy globally. It is estimated that by 2030, 40m people will be employed in ocean-based industries.
Just as there is significant value in the ocean economy, threats to the ocean’s resources through overexploitation, misuse, pollution, loss of biodiversity and climate change lead to significant costs. A World Bank report estimates that profits forgone from overfishing amount to US$83bn annually, while ocean plastic pollution costs society up to US$2.5trn a year.
In addition, a 600-page landmark review commissioned by the UK Treasury, “The Economics of Biodiversity”, has highlighted the extreme risks posed by the failure to take account of the rapid depletion of the natural world.
At the World Ocean Summit in March one concept stood out: global warming has weakened the Gulf Stream system to the slowest pace in more than a thousand years. This is a stark reminder of the crucial link between the ocean and climate change. Is this a tipping point, or have we already passed the point of irreversible damage?
I believe there are signs of hope.
To read the full blog and find out why Chris Gorell Barnes sees signs of hope, click here.