Ocean energy – the best ocean-based mitigation option against climate change
It has long been known that oceans are threatened by climate change – temperature rise, acidification and oxygen depletion are all caused by global warming and have devastating impacts on marine ecosystems. However, only recently the mitigation options offered by oceans have been acknowledged.
A new report by the High Level Panel for the Sustainable Ocean Economy, ‘The Ocean as a Solution to Climate Change’, examines how the oceans, coastal regions and economic activities can help fight climate change.
Within the different options – renewable energy, transport, marine ecosystems, food and carbon storage – ocean-based renewable energy is seen to have the greatest greenhouse gas reduction potential: ocean energy and offshore wind combined can meet almost 10% of the annual greenhouse gas emission reductions needed by 2050 to keep global temperatures under 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
The report identifies wider benefits that the development of ocean energy can create. Job creation, artificial reef effect and reduced air pollution in oil-dependent regions are some of the positive impacts of ocean energy that cover all the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.
The report highlights that significant investment in research and development is needed in order to unlock the full mitigation potential of ocean energy. It also proposes policy interventions that will support a greater uptake of ocean energy:
- Stable economic and regulatory framework to stimulate investments for an accelerated deployment of ocean-based energy systems.
- Establishment of national targets and strategies to increase the share of ocean-based renewable energy in the national energy mix.
- Development of incentives (e.g. carbon taxes and innovative power purchase agreements)
- Marine spatial planning should integrate the role of offshore renewable energy with other activities affecting oceans and coastal areas.
- Development of appropriate legislation and regulation of ocean-based renewable energy to allow easier integration in national electricity grids.
Many of these measures were also identified in ETIP Ocean’s Report on Stakeholder and policy needs.
The High Level Panel for the Sustainable Ocean Economy brings together serving heads of government committed to developing and supporting solutions for healthy and wealthy oceans in policy, governance, technology and finance.
You can find the report here.
Image: Pixabay/Public domain