COP25 – the rise of ocean-based climate action - Activate World

COP25 – the rise of ocean-based climate action

In Madrid, delegates from governments around the world are meeting to work on a global response to climate change. This is the 25th meeting under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP25. The primary objective this year is to nail down the finer points of how to achieve their Paris Agreement commitments.

Lunchtime Conversations:

  • There is a large U.S. delegation at COP25, despite our final withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement scheduled for 2020. What other actions can U.S. business leaders take to stay in the Paris Accord?
  • Without U.S. political leadership, how can business leaders convince China, India, and other growing sources of greenhouse gases to do more?
  • Most companies won’t act aggressively unless they believe investors value their sustainability efforts. How can the investment community be activated towards sustainability and climate action?


  • At the start of the conference, 75 CEOs joined with the head of the AFL-CIO to issue a statement asking for President Trump to rescind his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement.
  • According to a UN report published before the talks, global emissions must fall by about 7.6% a year for the next decade to give a chance of meeting the 1.5C goal. Current targets would result in more than 3C warming, considered a disastrous scenario that would trigger dangerous tipping points.
  • Ocean-based climate action could deliver a fifth of the emissions cuts needed to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsus, according to a recent report published by the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, part of the World Resources Institute.


Around 25,000 people from 200 countries are attending COP25, the last gathering of the group before 2020, the year the Paris climate accord goes into effect. The Paris Agreement is the 2015 deal where all nations under the Convention pledged to reduce fossil-fuel emissions and work toward limiting temperature increases to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Attendees include dozens of heads of state and government, business leaders, scientists, and activists. 

Civil unrest led Sebastián Piñera, Chile’s president, to withdraw from hosting COP25 in Santiago. However, the country continues to preside over the summit, as originally planned, and uphold the mantle of the first Blue COP — elevating the protection and restoration of our oceans as vital to climate progress.

The ocean is our greatest sink of both carbon and heat. Since the 1970s, it has absorbed up to half of humanity’s excess greenhouse gas emissions and about 93 percent of excess heat from those emissions. This is leading to dramatic changes in ocean circulation, rising acidification and increasing ice melt and sea-level rise.

“There are few domains where the risks of failure and rewards of success are more pronounced than the ocean,” wrote Lise Kingo, CEO and executive director of the UN Global Compact, in June. “Companies that work to secure a healthy, productive and well-governed ocean are not only meeting their responsibilities to people and planet, but are indeed acting in their own best interest.”

Given the potential impact, it is unacceptable that ocean health and management have remained largely sidelined in previous COP meetings. Chile and other nations are out to change this at COP25.

Sources: BloombergEthical CorporationGreenBiz,

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash