Ocean carbon
What we don’t know can hurt us: achieving global net zero is impossible without the ocean

The ocean is the most important global storage depot on Earth: it stores hundreds of times the heat and 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere and takes up more carbon than all the rainforests combined.

OFI organizes international carbon workshop

The Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI), in partnership with the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), organized an online “Ocean Carbon Workshop” on October 1, 2021, gathering key policymakers, opinion leaders and ocean carbon scientists to discuss the critical role of the ocean in controlling our climate and the importance of including it appropriately in net-zero calculations supporting climate targets.

The scientific community has identified a critical gap in climate target calculations - the ocean’s uptake of carbon has not been taken into consideration. This risks the credibility of national net-zero ambitions and jeopardizes major international efforts to reach global climate targets.

Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance, underscored the challenge this posed for policymakers, and the critical importance of addressing the issue at the Council of Parties (CoP26) in November. He and other attendees raised the importance of aligning the financial sector with the transition to net-zero, nations’ strong interest in engaging scientifically and logistically with an international observation initiative and the important role of international philanthropy.

Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s former Minister, Environment and Climate Change, cited Canada’s interest in building an ocean carbon observatory in the North Atlantic, but emphasized that to be effective this would need to be scaled up to a global system through collaborative international initiatives. The observatory would deliver near-real-time information to complete the missing piece of the net-zero equation and could be an international exemplar in the critical North Atlantic Ocean.