Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt

Delivered by Dr. Sally Benson

Ocean Action is Climate Action; Climate Action is Ocean Action

Good morning and all courtesies observed! It’s a pleasure to provide closing remarks to this august group to highlight the central role of the ocean in tackling climate change while also advancing environmental justice and achieving economic, health, safety, and security benefits for people everywhere.

The global community is finally beginning to appreciate what many of you have known and highlighted today: that the ocean is central to our lives and our future. We are flipping the script on the ocean: from a victim to a powerful source of solutions to climate change. Today, armed with science, inspired by successes around the world, and empowered by urgency and the need for justice, we embrace ocean-based solutions – solutions for the interrelated triple crises of climate, biodiversity, and equity.

I’m proud to be part of an administration that listens to science and takes the climate challenge seriously. As you know, the Biden-Harris Administration has set ambitious goals to tackle the climate crisis and deliver economic benefits at home. We are focused squarely on both mitigation and adaptation. The administration has already committed to:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas pollution from 2005 levels by 50-52% in 2030;
  • Creating a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035;
  • Reaching net-zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050;
  • Taking actions to enhance coastal and ocean resilience; and
  • Providing 40% of overall benefits of certain Federal investments to disadvantaged communities.

Moreover, the recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act provides the resources to begin to realize the most ambitious climate action ever by the United States.

Ocean-based solutions are critical to achieving climate goals – for the United States and the world.  The ocean could provide as much as 20% of the emissions reductions needed to meet a 1.5-degree target by 2050.  Many of you have focused on efforts that are already underway to expand marine renewable energy, promote green shipping, and deploy nature-based climate solutions, but additional work is needed!

In the United States, the Biden-Harris Administration is moving boldly with numerous ocean-climate actions, including:

• Producing 30 gigawatts of energy from offshore wind by 2030;

• Deploying 15 gigawatts of energy from floating offshore wind and lower costs of floating technologies by 70% by 2035;

• Conserving at least 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030;

• Working with the International Maritime Organization to achieve zero emissions from international shipping by no later than 2050;

• Joining the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy to leverage our common interests; And

• Participating actively in the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

But, that’s not all!  Here are highlights of a few of our new announcements and events here at COP27.

  • Earlier this week, the United States, Norway and Egypt launched the Green Shipping Challenge to put the shipping sector on a pathway this decade to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C.
  • Also this week, the United States released an ambitious report, a resource guide, and a fact sheet to shine a spotlight on the importance of nature-based solutions for climate, society, and biodiversity.
  • Next Tuesday, with the Ocean Panel Secretariat, we are hosting an event at the U.S. Center to showcase ocean climate efforts by many Ocean Panel nations.
  • And the challenges that climate change brings for the ocean, coastal ecosystems and communities, and blue carbon habitats are highlighted in the new DRAFT U.S. National Climate Assessment which we released for public comment and peer review on Monday.

And we have more waiting in the wings.  The United States recently initiated the development of a whole-of-government Ocean Climate Action Plan to take even more ambitious ocean-based climate mitigation and adaptation action, identify gaps in science and management, and recommend new actions. This Action Plan will feed into a broader effort to build a National Sustainable Ocean Strategy, part of our commitment in joining the Ocean Panel.

In closing, it should be clear that the United States is acting on our knowledge about the power of ocean-climate action and that we are keen to join forces with you and others.  Speakers in this session highlight the need for bold, sustained action.

We are focused on realizing the emerging new narrative for the ocean:  that it is key to our future – too large and too important to ignore.  We know that the ocean is central to tackling climate change.  And while our individual countries and organizations are acting, not everyone understands the central role of the ocean.  We are making progress, but have much more to do for we have only just begun to tap the potential solutions from the ocean.

I’m grateful to all of you for your actions.  Let’s build on this momentum, for climate action is ocean action; ocean action is climate action. Thank you!


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