Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) reports are the main mechanism by which countries communicate their ambitions and efforts in support of the Paris Agreement. At the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in November 2022, the global community reconvened in Egypt to measure progress. But how prominently do vital ocean-based commitments and actions figure in this process? Focusing on the ocean–climate nexus is a key part of tackling the climate crisis, including limiting global temperature rise above pre-industrial levels to well below 2˚C and pursuing efforts to hold such an increase to 1.5˚C. The preambular paragraph to the 2018 Commonwealth Blue Charter, adopted by Commonwealth countries, highlights the fact that the ocean produces half of the world’s oxygen and absorbs approximately one-quarter of our carbon dioxide emissions, as well as absorbing most of the world’s extra heat.
This Commonwealth report presents the findings of a review of ocean-based actions and commitments contained in the NDCs of the 49 coastal and island states within the Commonwealth (the ‘Commonwealth Ocean’). It examines five key themes that are critical to the ocean–climate nexus:
- restoring, conserving and financing critical coastal vegetation, including mangroves, saltmarshes, seagrasses and other blue carbon sinks;
- protecting critical habitats and ecosystems to increase resilience to climate impacts;
- supporting emissions reduction in maritime shipping (‘green shipping’);
- building coastal resilience, including that of communities, cities and infrastructure; and
- transitioning to ocean-based renewable energy.
Our review of Commonwealth Ocean countries’ NDCs produced the following overall findings:
- more than 75 per cent of Commonwealth small island developing states (SIDS) have led the mainstreaming of ocean-based actions and commitments in their NDCs;
- of all Commonwealth Ocean countries, 59 per cent have mainstreamed ocean-based actions and commitments in their most recent NDCs; and
- just one-third of developed countries1 in the Commonwealth have mainstreamed ocean-based actions and commitments.
However, some countries have publicly announced greater ambitions concerning the ocean–climate nexus, with associated plans and actions, which were not captured in their most recent NDCs. This is a missed opportunity: codifying these ambitions in NDCs may help to mobilise resources to aid in their delivery, as well as provide an important accountability mechanism.
- Analytical Approach and Assumptions
- Snapshot Across the Commonwealth, including SIDS and LDCs
- A Regional View of the Commonwealth
- Key Takeaways