Ocean commitments under the Paris Agreement

Last modified: 
November 4, 2017 - 4:10pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2017
Date published: 10/2017
Authors: Natalya Gallo, David Victor, Lisa Levin
Journal title: Nature Climate Change
Volume: 7
Issue: 11
Pages: 833 - 838
ISSN: 1758-678X

Under the Paris Agreement nations made pledges known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs), which indicate how national governments are evaluating climate risks and policy opportunities. We find that NDCs reveal important systematic patterns reflecting national interests and capabilities. Because the ocean plays critical roles in climate mitigation and adaptation, we created a quantitative marine focus factor (MFF) to evaluate how governments address marine issues. In contrast to the past, when oceans received minimal attention in climate negotiations, 70% of 161 NDCs we analysed include marine issues. The percentage of the population living in low-lying areas—vulnerable to rising seas—positively influences the MFF, but negotiating group (Annex 1 or small island developing states) is equally important, suggesting political motivations are crucial to NDC development. The analysis reveals gaps between scientific and government attention, including on ocean deoxygenation, which is barely mentioned. Governments display a keen interest in expanding marine research on climate priorities.

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