The climate crisis is the greatest threat to all life on Earth. But there is hope - whales are essential in combating climate change and the more whales there are, the more carbon is taken out of the atmosphere. WDC's Ed Goodall will be at the Bonn Climate Conference to urge international governments to take action and prioritise the protection of our giant climate heroes before it's too late.
Let's hear more from Ed...
WDC participates in many high-level, intergovernmental meetings. You might be familiar with some of these, like the climate COPs of UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), where countries come together to try to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. We go to meetings like these to work with governments to increase protections and remove harms. Sometimes the wins can take a long time, but with organisations like ours giving nature a voice, we can create a better world for us all to co-exist.
The Bonn Climate Conference is the annual ‘middle meeting’ of the UNFCCC calendar and is where a lot of the work gets done before the main COP meeting later in the year. These ‘middle meetings’ are more technical and a lot less political than the main COP meeting so they give us the opportunity to provide our specific and unique expertise to inspire officials from lots of countries to become allies for whales and dolphins.
As part of our long-term strategy within UNFCCC, we are going to Bonn to highlight the role whales and dolphins play as a climate change solution. We need to build awareness so that when our research programme has filled some of the knowledge gaps, we can bring the strongest case possible for countries to remove threats and increase protections for whales and dolphins from a climate change perspective. You and I know that we should just save them anyway because they are infinitely incredible, but people who make decisions in the halls of power need time and data, so we must move fast.
It's a start...
Back at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, it was announced that there would be an annual ‘Ocean Dialogue’ at these meetings. Finally, after almost 30 years of talking about the planetary issue of climate, UNFCCC decided to start properly talking about two-thirds of the planet … So that was our door-opening moment to get people talking about whales as climate heroes. For most people in this policy arena, this idea is very abstract, but with the clock ticking down to 2030, we need to throw the kitchen sink at this problem now. That means scaling up every action that can increase carbon sequestration and boost biodiversity, and whales do that in immense ways. The fact it’s called a ‘dialogue’ at all is rather frustrating as talking about things very rarely solves stuff.
A little less conversation, a little more action.
What we need is rapid and meaningful action. We need countries to start working on all the solutions and integrating all the agreements that are trying to save the world. We need UNFCCC to work alongside the Convention of Biological Diversity’s Global Biodiversity Framework which aims to protect and start restoring 30% of the land and ocean by 2030. We need UNFCCC to work with countries on the recently announced High Seas Treaty to protect all the ocean that is beyond the 200-mile limits of countries – which is most of it! We are asking for countries to commit to investing in data and science so we can better understand the current status of many species, what is impacting them and how we can reverse the decline in populations.
They’ve done it before in the ocean, but only on the bits around the edges – the seagrass, the mangroves, the saltmarshes and the coral reefs. We need all of those too, but if we don’t bring in the rest of the ocean and the life it has to offer, we won’t solve the issue. We can’t save the climate if we can’t save the ocean and we can’t save the ocean without saving whales and dolphins. It’s all interlinked. It’s all complex, but there’s only one way to go about this. We need a little less talk and a whole ocean of action as words mean nothing on a planet devoid of nature and past the point of no return.
WDC are co-hosting a side event at the Bonn conference with Climate Action Network International and fellow members EcoAction and AirClim, along with our friends at Ocean Conservancy and Southern Connecticut State University. The event will be highlighting to negotiators the need to scale up all the ocean climate solutions (including whales!) and the need to be a lot more inclusive when implementing them. We’ll also sit in as official observers to the Ocean Dialogue where we may get a chance to make an intervention to proceedings and highlight whales and dolphins as climate giants.
Following Bonn is COP28, the main meeting of the year on climate, which will run in Dubai between 30th November and 12th December. WDC will be there, and we’ll make sure attendees know that the whales have arrived and we’ll keep pushing until we get them the protections they need.
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