Dalhousie continues push for international ocean observation at COP28

November 29, 2023

A delegation from Dalhousie University will participate in the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from November 30 to December 12, 2023.

Led by Dr. Alice Aiken, vice-president research and innovation, and Dr. Anya Waite, chief executive officer and scientific director of the Dalhousie-led Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI), the delegation will elevate the role of the ocean in the fight against climate change.

“COP28 is an opportunity to showcase Dalhousie’s substantial expertise in ocean-climate research, and to highlight Canada’s recent investment in the groundbreaking $397-million Transforming Climate Action (TCA) research program,” says Dr. Aiken. “By convening international leaders to discuss the critical need to coordinate and invest in more global ocean observation, our delegation will help to accelerate efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change.”

Dalhousie delegates are available for interviews (see below for contact details).

Transforming Climate Action research program

Led by Dalhousie, administered by OFI and in collaboration with Université du Québec à Rimouski, Laval University, and Memorial University. TCA is the most intensive investigation ever undertaken into the ocean’s role in climate change.

While at COP, the delegation will highlight the core principles integral to the TCA program, including the diverse partners and disciplines involved, Dalhousie’s commitment to meaningful Indigenous engagement and the consideration and promotion of equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility across all facets of the program.

“We are launching TCA on a global stage so that we can help connect world leaders in science, innovation, and policy with Canada,” says Dr. Waite. “By strengthening existing relationships and building new international partnerships, we will maximize the impact of this research and its benefits to Canada and the world.”

Canada’s investment in TCA underscores the importance and urgency of this research, while also providing OFI with a foundation to advocate for the expansion and improvement of ocean observations worldwide to:

Proposed North Atlantic Carbon Observatory

The ocean controls our climate. It has absorbed more than 90 per cent of the excess heat and almost 30 per cent of the excess carbon dioxide caused by human activity.  

There is, however, an urgent need for more ocean carbon data so that scientists can better understand this process and how it is changing because of global warming. These changes could lead to devastating consequences, including extreme weather events, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, coral reef mortality, and an increase in low-oxygen zones.

“OFI is proposing the North Atlantic Carbon Observatory (NACO) as an ideal starting point to advance ocean and carbon observations to inform climate policies and enable responsible climate solutions at scale,” says Dr. Waite. “The natural carbon flux in the North Atlantic Ocean is particularly vulnerable to climate change, and it is a critical component of the ocean’s carbon absorbing function.”

Establishing a robust ocean carbon observing system to address information gaps requires swift international coordination and investment.  

“Our participation at COP will bring together leaders in Canada and around the world to discuss how we can align ocean-climate research, and governance in the North Atlantic Ocean,” says Dr. Aiken.  

This will include discussions on how NACO would connect and enhance existing ocean observation and modelling capabilities to give decision-makers the critical information needed to inform climate strategies, policies, and actions.

Seeking action

To expand commitments and funding for ocean observation, the delegation will participate in numerous side events and meetings at COP28, including panel discussions that OFI will host at the Canadian Pavilion and Ocean Pavilion. The events will be held in partnership with public and private sector partners, including the Government of Canada, IBM, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Updates will be shared during the conference through OFI’s Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

The need for inclusivity and equity  

Commitment to inclusivity and equity is at the core of OFI and Dal and is crucial to our efforts to lead ocean research efforts globally.

Steps are being taken to ensure the safety of the delegation, especially those from the LGBTQAI2S+ community, in collaboration with the Canadian government.

"Recognizing, addressing, and taking accountability for the obstacles and barriers faced by equity-seeking groups in the research community is at the heart of OFI and Dalhousie's mandate,” says Dr. Waite.

Event details

For a full list of hosted and participating events please visit our COP28 event page.

Media/event inquiries

For any media or event inquiries, please reach out to:

Greg Hanna
Manager, Communications and Public Relations
Ocean Frontier Institute

This story was originally published on Dal News.