Ocean carbon workshops
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.

2021 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.

2022 Workshop

OFI's second ocean carbon workshop was held on October 5, 2022, as part of the World Ocean Tech and Innovation Summit hosted by The Economist.

The workshop built on the outcomes from the first Ocean Carbon Workshop in 2021, which identified that the ocean is missing from global climate models and international climate strategy.

This year, the discussion focused on the natural and capital value of accurate climate strategy and how internationally coordinated ocean observation and synthesis can close the gap on climate models and improve policy decisions. Discussions and outcomes from this workshop fed into presentations at COP27 in November 2022.


The one-hour event featured:

  • Briefings by international experts
  • Moderated panel discussion
  • Questions from the audience

Invited Speakers

We were pleased to welcome:

  • Mr. Michel Jean, President of the Infrastructure Commission, World Meteorological organization,
  • Dr. Joanna Post, Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),
  • Senator Dr. Stanley Kutcher, founder of Senators for Climate Solutions,
  • Andy Fillmore, MP and Parliamentary Secretary representing the views of Minister François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry of Canada, and
  • Dr. Anya Waite, Chief Executive Officer and Scientific Director, Ocean Frontier Institute, Associate Vice-President Research (Ocean), Dalhousie University

Key takeaways

  • "The North Atlantic is at the heart of the machinery of the global climate engine," said Mr. Michel Jean. "We strongly believe that we need a concerted international coordination effort to coordinate all existing capabilities, both space-based and surface-based observing systems."
  • [The ocean is] the foundation of our understanding of the climate and at the foundation of the climate services value chain that connects observation to decision making to understand climate change, understand the state of global climate, and both support climate change mitigation and adaptation action." Dr. Joanna Post.
  • "We need this information, and we need it urgently to allow us to enhance science-based decision making, not just in Canada, but worldwide. For example, the ocean's vital carbon absorbing function, particularly what has been called deep blue carbon in the high seas, remains critically under observed and may be changing," said Senator Dr. Stanley Kutcher. "The North Atlantic Carbon Observatory is an example of this vital and urgently needed work, and an opportunity for Canadian leadership and helping to bring together a global consortium, to now do the hard work needed. Not tomorrow. But now."


Halifax Convention Centre
1650 Argyle Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J 0E6