Why there’s no health without the Ocean.

A healthy Ocean is our greatest ally against climate change.

Our health depends on the Ocean.  

This statement is true, of course, but it’s very easy to become desensitised to this idea when it all seems so abstract. 

In this modern world, it’s easy to overlook the fundamental basis our survival that we often take for granted.

It can be hard to directly link our everyday lives and habits to the Ocean, especially for those of us who don’t live anywhere near the coast, and don’t interact with the sea on a regular basis. 

This can leave many of us feeling disconnected and disengaged from Ocean action. 

A quote saying "Our health depends on the Ocean" in a science article discussing why a healthy Ocean is key to our survival.

But let’s dive deeper into this statement to find out what a healthy Ocean really means to us (humanity), and why we should must care.

A healthy Ocean is key to our survival 

In fact, the Ocean provides all the fundamental resources that we need to survive:

1. Air: The oxygen in every second breath we take comes from the Ocean.

It’s also believed that tiny, single-celled algae called Cyanobacteria provided the atmospheric conditions suitable for our very existence around 2.4 billion years ago.  (That’s referred to as the Great Oxidation Event.)  

2. Water: All water on the planet is connected by a system known as the hydrological cycle.

Water evaporates from the Ocean’s surface to form clouds, which provide us with the fresh water that we use to drink, shower, and cook with.  

It’s all connected via rivers, streams, and groundwater tables.

Even the water that makes up 60% of your own body was part of the Ocean at some point. 

Our Ocean provides air, water, food and shelter for our survival.

3. Food: Seafood provides a primary source of protein for over 3.3 billion people.

That’s over 40% of the global population (8.1 billion in 2023). The Ocean also drives the rain systems and climate patterns which help our crops to grow.

So even if you don’t eat fish, the Ocean still indirectly provides the food that you eat.

4. Shelter: The Ocean has been present during every element of our evolutionary history as human beings and continues to shape the way our society functions. 

River basins, where land meets the sea, represent the earliest relationship between human society and nature. These areas of fertile plain fields, rich soil and abundant water resources allowed for the very first human civilisations to thrive.  

Over time, the development of ports also provided a gateway of connectivity and transportation between societies.  

This relationship continues today.  

As of 2020, almost 1 billion people live within 10km of the coastline, and more than one third of the world’s population (2.75 billion people) live within 100km from the coast. 

What’s more, over 3 billion people depend on the Ocean as a primary source of income, the majority of these from Ocean-based industries such as fisheries and tourism in developing countries. 

Why healthy people need a healthy Ocean: explained by Ocean generation, leaders in Ocean literacy.

Healthy people need a healthy Ocean 

The Ocean contains a vast biodiversity of life, with over 250,000 known species and many more (at least two thirds) yet to be discovered.  

Each life form has a unique method of adaptation against disease and pathogens. We’re constantly learning from this strange and alien world to apply these mechanisms to our own needs.  

We depend on this marine biodiversity to develop modern medicines. In fact, between 1981-2008, around 64% of all drugs used to fight infection, and 63% of anti-cancer drugs were derived from natural sources.  

For example, the Horseshoe Crab is commonly referred to as a “living fossil” and has survived almost unchanged for around 200 million years. Its blue blood contains special cells called “granular amoebocytes” which can detect and clot around even the tiniest presence of toxic bacteria.  

Humans harness the special property of this blood to test whether the drugs and vaccines that we produce are free from contamination.

A healthy Ocean is our greatest ally against climate change.

A healthy Ocean is our greatest ally against climate change. 

A healthy Ocean stabilises our entire planetary system and acts as a buffer against the worsening impacts of climate change.  

It regulates global air temperatures by absorbing 26% of total CO2 emissions and storing over 90% of the excess heat from the atmosphere.  

But the Ocean is not just a victim of climate change, it’s also a source of solutions.

Our Ocean provides all the fundamental resources that we need to survive. Written by Ocean Generation.

Coastal “blue carbon” ecosystems, such as mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrass meadows remove and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These ecosystems can lock away carbon in their soils at rates up to an order of magnitude faster than terrestrial forests.

Protecting and restoring these vital coastal ecosystems offers us a chance to ensure a sustainable future for people and planet.  

If the Ocean thrives, so do we.  

So, next time you’re having a drink of water, catching your breath after exercising, or waiting at the doctor’s surgery for some medicine, take a moment to stop and thank the Ocean for providing the fundamentals to make all this possible. 

Our Ocean is not just a victim of climate change, it's a source of solutions.

Why is the Ocean so important?

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Why is the Ocean so important?

Ocean wave crashing on a rock. Shared by Ocean Generation in an article about why the Ocean is important.

Introducing the Ocean: Our most precious, life-giving, climateregulating, yet recklessly exploited, undervalued, and underfunded resource.  

Covering over 70% of our blue planet and holding roughly 97% of the world’s water, the Ocean provides the foundation for all living things. From the smallest plankton to the largest animal to have ever lived (the blue whale). And that’s just the beginning of why the Ocean is important.

Energy is cycled across its single, interconnected system; keeping everything in balance. It allows all life to exist together in harmony. 

The Ocean makes up over 90% of all habitable space on Earth.  

Just think about that. All the rainforests, grasslands, mountain ranges and deserts combined with every town, city and village of human civilisation make up less than 10% of the liveable space on our planet.  

Everything else is Ocean.  

The Ocean exists on a scale beyond our understanding. ocean facts shared by Ocean Generation: Experts in Ocean health.

An Ocean which is home to the world’s largest mountain range (the Mid Ocean Ridge is over seven times longer than the Andes).

And the world’s deepest canyon. (Challenger Deep is six times deeper than the Grand Canyon and could easily swallow Mount Everest.) 

This vast, interconnected body of water exists on a scale so large that it’s almost beyond the realm of our understanding. 

But we need to understand why the Ocean is important.  

The Ocean defines our planet and provides the very foundation of our existence 

If it could talk, the Ocean would be able to tell us all about the dinosaurs, the ice age, and how Stonehenge or Egypt’s pyramids were really built. The Ocean watched as the earliest Homo Sapiens (that’s us) took our first footsteps. It may even hold the secrets to the very beginning of life on Earth.  

Two circle images beside each other: One of the pyramids in Egypt and another of a calm Ocean scene. Ocean Generation is sharing why the Ocean is so important in this article.

To look back at the history of the Ocean is to look back at the history of life itself.  

For millions of years, the Ocean has provided the conditions required for the evolution of all living things. The Ocean burst into life during the Cambrian explosion (the *relatively* sudden radiation and divergence of complex life forms) around 538.8 million years ago and has seen all five mass extinction events since. 

Make that six.  

At this very moment, we are living through the sixth mass extinction event. Research shows that species are now going extinct between 100 and 1,000 times faster than natural, background extinction rates.  

The delicate balance of life which has been slowly ticking along for millions of years has taken decades to unravel.  

According to the IUCN Red List, over 44,000 assessed species are threatened with extinction.  

It’s almost impossible to comprehend that we are hurtling towards destruction on a scale comparable to that caused by a colossal asteroid collision 66 million years ago. (That, the last mass extinction event, wiped out the dinosaurs).   

Except this time, humanity are both the asteroid and the dinosaurs.  

A pod of dolphins swimming in the Ocean shared by Ocean Generation.

 

Is the Ocean too vast to feel our impact?  

People used to think the Ocean existed on such an infinite, untouchable scale that nothing we, people, could do would affect its limitless bounty.  

“Man marks the earth with ruin – his control stops with the shore…”

– Lord Byron, Nineteenth Century.
Sunset image of the Ocean and a pink sky. Shared by Ocean Generation the global charity providing Ocean education to everyone, everywhere.

We now know that this is wrong.  

Throughout the last decades, our Ocean has been heating up. It’s becoming more acidic, choking in plastic, drained of its fish stocks, and pumped with toxic chemicals at a rate far beyond which it can sustain.  

We have borne witness to record breaking temperatures, mass coral-bleaching and glacial melting events. Now, we are hurtling towards a ‘new normal’ in which instability and volatility are centre stage. 

We have been recklessly exploiting our Ocean system.  

We have watched as records are broken time and time again.  

But in 2023, the Ocean temperature record wasn’t just broken, it was absolutely obliterated. 

In fact, the entire upper 2000m of the Ocean experienced shatteringly high temperatures. As this surface layer heats up, it’s less able to mix with deep water below. As a result, surface oxygen content has decreased.  

Image of a glacier in the Ocean with the quote: In 2023, the Ocean temperature record wasn’t just broken, it was absolutely obliterated.

This isn’t only detrimental to marine ecosystems, but it also slows the Ocean’s life-saving ability to sequester (remove and store) atmospheric carbon dioxide.  

The global water cycle has also been amplified by our warming Ocean. For us on land, this means stronger, longer droughts as well as intensified rainfall, storm, and flooding events.  

Restoring the Ocean starts on land – with us.

Just like how people once thought the Ocean was too large to feel our impacts. Now, it may seem like our impacts are too large to solve. But we know this isn’t true.  

We have the technology, the knowledge, and the power to turn the tide and reverse our trajectory. 

We know this because we’re in many parts of the world, it’s already happening.  

Effectively managed Marine Protected Areas, Maximum Sustainable Yields (the maximum catch size that can be removed from a population to maintain a healthy and sustainable fish stock), and the rise in renewable energy technologies are all ways in which humanity has learned to collaborate more fairly with nature.  

Rainbow over a beach and the Ocean with the quote: We have the opportunity to leave our Ocean in a better state than we found it. Shared by Ocean Generation, leaders in environmental education.

Working with the Ocean rather against it can reap limitless benefits for both people and planet. If the Ocean thrives, so do we.

This knowledge is power.  
Power to be part of the solution, to consider the cost of inaction and unite to ensure our Ocean’s health is considered in all decisions – personal, business, and government policies.  

We have a unique opportunity to be the first generation to leave our precious Ocean in a better state than we found it. 

Your actions may feel like a drop in the Ocean, but together we can make waves of change.  

Start by signing up to our newsletter and reading about 15 climate actions you can take to restore our Ocean. Learn more about why the Ocean is important by adding it to your scroll via your favourite social platform:

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COP28 Outcomes: The beginning of the end of fossil fuels

Young woman in a fashionable dress shirt floating in the Ocean. Her eyes are closed and she looks relaxed. Ocean Generation is sharing COP28 outcomes in this article with a focus on Ocean wins.

Everything you need to know about COP28 outcomes.

After a gruelling set of negotiations which dragged on well into the night, a new deal has finally been agreed at the UN climate summit COP28, in Dubai, UAE. 

COP28 outcomes: ‘Fossil fuels’ finally make the cut.

In the face of colossal opposition from the world’s oil producing countries, and despite the highest number of fossil fuel lobbyists at COP than ever before, a global consensus has been reached. The world has finally agreed to transition away from fossil fuels.  

For the first time ever, the elephant in the room has been addressed. ‘Fossil fuels’ have made it into the official outcome agreement at COP28.  

Environmentalists celebrate the results of COP28 because for the first time ever, 
‘fossil fuels’ have made it
into the official outcome 
agreement at COP28.  
Shared by Ocean Generation: Experts in Ocean health and Ocean conservation.

This is the biggest step forward for climate since the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015. And the COP28 agreement signals the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era.   

The agreement follows the widespread fury sparked by an earlier draft, which was deemed a “death sentence” by representatives from Pacific Island nations. The new document calls on countries to “contribute to global efforts to transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems in a just, orderly and equitable manner.” 

The deal also calls for a tripling of global renewable energy capacity and doubling of energy efficiency by 2030. 

Ocean Generation questions if the COP28 outcomes go far enough to fighting the climate crisis. Alone, it won’t keep global temperature rise below 1.5˚C. But it may help the world to get closer to net zero by 2050.

Does the COP28 Agreement go far enough 

Despite the standing ovations as the new COP28 agreement was passed, many nations have criticised the final decision. And there are concerns that it hasn’t gone far enough.

With just six years left until 1.5 degrees becomes inevitable, it’s not the “phase-out” that we had all hoped for.  

Put simply, the language of the text was weaker than many countries wanted.  

There was no mention of coal or methane (the most potent greenhouse gas). A finance path to aid the transition for developing countries was also missing. There was also no request for developed countries to take the lead on the transition away from fossil fuels. This raised further criticisms over the fairness of the deal. 

A ‘litany of loopholes’ scattered within the text provides enough ambiguity for fossil fuel producers to continue ramping up production. Examples include ‘abatement’ (A.K.A CO2 removal); ‘transition fuels’ (A.K.A gas), and ‘fossil fuel subsidies’ to name a few.  

Loopholes in the COP28 agreement text provide ambiguity for fossil fuel producers to continue ramping up production. Shared by Ocean Generation: Experts in Ocean health and Ocean conservation.

This will have devastating consequences. Particularly, for the most vulnerable communities who are already bearing the brunt of the worsening impacts of climate change.  

Opposition to the new deal was voiced by a representative of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The SIDS said: ‘You agreed the deal when we weren’t in the room’. This was meant literally (delegates from SIDS were still discussing their response to the text when it was agreed further down the hall). However, it also reflects that these nations feel overlooked, despite being the hardest hit by climate change.  

Does the COP28 Agreement go far enough 

The agreement alone will not be enough to keep global temperature rise below 1.5˚C. But it may help the world to get closer to net zero by 2050. That’s if individual countries put a rapid transition to green energy at the heart of their new NDCs. 

Here are some reactions from top climate scientists:

“At my lowest points as a climate scientist I did not think I would see a COP agreement that includes wording on the start of transitioning away from fossil fuels in my lifetime.”
– Prof Mary Gagen, Climate scientist, Swansea University  

“The agreement, though inadequate, is an essential and sustained baby step towards the goal of limiting human caused climate change.”
– Prof Richard Allan, Climate scientist, University of Reading 

Rainbow over the Ocean shared by Ocean conservation charity Ocean Generation

How does the Ocean fit into COP28 outcomes?

Multilateralism (alliance between countries to achieve a common goal) connects us all, and so does the Ocean.  

This was recognised during the Nature, Land Use and Ocean’s Day. Countries, non-state actors and other stakeholders came together in support of nature-based Ocean and climate action.

Here are our top three Ocean-wins from COP28: 

  1. The importance of maintaining the health of our Ocean is getting recognised.

    During the Nature, Land Use and Ocean’s Day, 18 countries pledged to implement Sustainable Ocean Plans. These plans are supported by the official launch of Ocean Breakthroughs.  

    These will provide a roadmap for change and aim to catalyse momentum across five key areas. Namely, marine conservation, shipping, aquatic food, coastal tourism, and marine renewables. These contributing countries represent 50% of the world’s coastlines and close to 50% of global Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ’s). 

  2. There’s an increased appreciation that the Ocean can provide solutions for mitigation and adaptation.

    $186 million of new funding was pledged towards investment in nature-based solutions and Ocean-action. The Mangrove breakthrough was also formally endorsed by 21 countries. Its global goal is to protect 15 million hectares of mangroves

  3. And a growing acknowledgement of the need for synergy between climate and biodiversity targets.

    The joint statement on climate, nature and people was signed by 20 countries. It seeks to align action on climate change, biodiversity loss and sustainable development. It recognises that a healthy Ocean will provide benefits across all three avenues. 
Image of a woman and the Ocean. We cant solve the climate crisis without a healthy Ocean says David Eades, BBC Journalist and presenter. Shared by Ocean Generation: Experts in Ocean health and Ocean conservation.

What happens next?

For world leaders: While the COP28 decisions are not legally binding, Parties (countries) are obliged to act in accordance with the outcomes of this process. It’s time for world leaders to head home and begin delivering on the promises made. Individual countries are required to submit stronger action plans in their next round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in 2025.  

For COP: Fossil fuels have officially entered the global conversation. The work now begins to tighten this language and ensure a fair, equitable and just transition at COP29 in Azerbaijan, and beyond. To ensure a liveable planet and a healthy Ocean, we need a full ‘phase-out’ of fossil fuels before it’s too late. 

For us: Together, we must ride this growing wave of hope and momentum, to continue advocating for stronger Ocean-action.  

Stay up to date with all things Ocean:  

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What’s happened on our blue planet since COP27?

Hand reaching out into the Ocean water.

Extreme weather events and temperature records have made headlines more frequently in 2023 than ever.

The transition into an El Niño climate pattern (explained here) compounded by worsening impacts of climate change have resulted in an unstable year of weather patterns.  

This is a trend which is set to intensify in the coming years. 

The more often these events happen, the less headline-worthy they are and instead they simply become part of the norm. As the world turns its attention to climate change at COP28, we must recognise weather events as part of the larger-scale changes that are happening all around us, right now. 

It’s also important to celebrate the key breakthroughs for Ocean-action in 2023 and use these as a foundation to expand our future ambition at COP28 and beyond. 

The more often extreme weather events happen, the less headline-worthy they are and instead they simply become part of the norm.

Timeline of extreme weather events and Ocean wins that have made headlines in 2023: 

Our Ocean regulates global climate and is inextricably linked to these extreme weather events.

How the Ocean is linked to temperature records broken:

Over the course of 2023, we saw the warmest Northern Hemisphere summer on record and the hottest September ever recorded (average global temperature reached +0.66°C and +0.93°C warmer than the 1991-2020 baseline respectively).  

Unsurprisingly, since the Ocean absorbs 90% of the excess heat associated with climate change, these broken temperature records were not limited to land.  

The highest ever Ocean surface temperature was recorded in August 2023, as widespread marine heatwaves spread across the North Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Gulf of Mexico.  

This unprecedented heat stress caused a severe coral bleaching event in the Caribbean, during which the highest warning level alerted to significant coral mortality

September 2023 also saw the lowest mean winter sea ice extent ever observed in the Antarctic, with maximum coverage a shocking 1.03 million km2 below the previous record low. 

Scientists fear that this could mark the beginning of a long-term declining trend.  

Graph of Antarctic Sea Ice Extent in 2023 shared by Ocean Generation.

As greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere, our Ocean continues to warm.

Warmer water absorbs less carbon dioxide, and the Ocean’s ability to act as a buffer and protect us against rapid temperature change slows.  

How the Ocean links to storms and flooding events:

Weather systems are supercharged by our warming Ocean, as warmer water supplies more moisture and thermal energy to the atmosphere. 

This process drives intensified rainfall and more powerful storm and flooding events. 

For instance, Cyclone Freddy made landfall multiple times across Malawi, Mozambique, and Madagascar in February 2023, killing more than 1,000 people and displacing millions.

This was the longest-lasting tropical cyclone ever recorded (34 days long), and also broke the record for the most accumulated energy based on wind strength measurements. 

You’ve probably also heard of a phenomenon called ‘El Niño’ which has been linked to many extreme weather events this year.  

The Ocean absorbs 90% of the excess heat associated with climate change. Image of a dessert and the Ocean, showing how the Ocean is connect to everything on Earth.

What is the El Niño phenomenon? 

El Niño occurs due to the periodical weakening of trade winds in the Pacific Ocean. This pushes warm surface water towards the west coast of the Americas and drives changes in wind and weather patterns across the globe. 

The surprising impact of wildfires on our Ocean 

Wildfire events are growing in frequency and intensity across the globe, partly driven by rising temperatures, strong winds and drier conditions.  

In a surprising discovery, severe Australian wildfires in 2019-2020 were found to cause abnormal algal blooms in the Southern Ocean, thousands of miles downwind of the flames.  

It is believed that aerosols from the fire, which contain high levels of iron, phosphorous and other minerals, were transported downwind into the Southern Ocean. These minerals, which are usually in low supply in this region, acted as a fertiliser and caused abnormal algal bloom events. 

In a surprising discovery, severe Australian wildfires (2019-2020) caused abnormal algal blooms in the Southern Ocean. Image of wildfires and Ocean corals, showing how the Ocean is connected to everything.

Artificial fertilisation events can disrupt natural nutrient cycling and marine photosynthesis patterns in the Ocean.  

Further clues of these widespread impacts were seen in 2023. Huge wildfires in Canada burned all summer long, releasing persistent aerosol pollution over the Atlantic Ocean. Evidence of this was seen in the skies over parts of the UK in September, where incoming smoke diluted the sunshine, causing the sun to appear lilac in colour.  

Only time will tell the impacts of this year’s events, but it’s clear that wildfires can have far-reaching consequences on underwater ecosystems.  

Ocean wins giving us hope for the future. 

2023 has been a monumental year for Ocean wins. 

This year, we celebrated the agreement of the landmark High Seas Treaty, improved single-use plastic regulations, and the decision to pause deep sea mining among others. This is a sign of the ever-growing Ocean-recognition in local, regional, and global decision making.  

Whale tail breaking out of the Ocean. 2023 was a momentous year for Ocean wins. Ocean Generation is sharing the Ocean wins that happened in 2023 and a timeline of other extreme weather events.

Each Ocean win moves us one step closer to effective Ocean-action, and it does not stop here. At COP28, we need to see continued momentum to protect and safeguard our Ocean into 2024 and beyond.   

Stay up to date with COP28:  

We’re sharing bite-sized COP updates, commitments, and Ocean wins on your favourite social platform.  

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The Global Stocktake: Translated

Three diverse woem with the blue sky behind them.

What is the Global Stocktake and what has it told us about the progress we’re making in the face of climate change?

The Global Stocktake is the first comprehensive assessment of global progress made on climate change since the adoption of the Paris Climate Change Agreement in 2015.  

Essentially, it is a global inventory of all-things climate change: What progress has been made? What areas need more focus? Are we on track to meet our climate goals? (Spoiler alert…we are not). 

What is the global stocktake? The Global Stocktake is the 1st comprehensive assessment 
of global progress made on climate change since the adoption 
of the Paris Climate Change Agreement in 2015. Shared by Ocean Generation.

In this critical decade for climate action, assessing collective progress towards climate goals helps us to identify key gaps, holds us accountable to our commitments, and allows us to work together to agree on solutions.  

The Global Stocktake provides an opportunity for leaders to course correct by ramping up global ambition and avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis.  

The Global Stocktake consists of three phases  

  1. Data collection phase: 

Culmination of all available information across all thematic areas (including coastal zones, terrestrial and marine ecosystem services, food, water, and energy use).

  1. Technical phase:  

Evaluation of information to produce insights and summary reports, written by a range of stakeholders. The findings were culminated in a synthesis report. 

  1. Political phase: 

Negotiations, policy changes and decisions based on synthesis report findings.

This phase will take place during COP28 and is critical to determine how countries will respond. 

So, what does the Global Stocktake report tell us?

The Global Stocktake synthesis report is a 46-page technical dialogue which serves as a factual resource and provides a comprehensive overview of the outcomes from phases one and two.  

Key finding 1: 

While the Paris Agreement has driven climate action, we are not on track to meet its goals. Ambitions and action must be ramped up to get us there.  

Image of speed boat in the Ocean making a circle in the water. Ahead of COP28, Ocean Generation - a global Ocean charity shares - While the Paris Agreement 
has driven climate action, 
we are not on track 
to meet its goals.

Key finding 2: 

Climate change must be addressed within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Tougher, more transparent accounting measures are needed to accurately assess the credibility of climate contributions.  

It is vital that marginalised groups (including women, youth, and Indigenous Peoples) are stakeholders to ensure that everyone can actively participate in these efforts.   

Key finding 3: 

The large-scale systems transformation needed will be disruptive, so they need to be equitable. 

Example transformations include shifting the current ways in which we get around to low-carbon forms of transport. This will involve shifting ownership from petrol and diesel to electric cars, and the entire reconfiguration of public transport networks. 

Systems transformation also applies to the food and agriculture sector. We must find a way to reduce the land-footprint of agriculture, halt and reverse deforestation, and effectively manage fish stocks. All while simultaneously increasing production to provide for the ever-growing number of human mouths to feed.  

These are the systems which underpin how we live our day-to-day lives, and they need to be transformed to better align human society with a climate-positive future. Therefore, it is vital that we focus on inclusion and equity to ensure that no-one is left behind.  

Those most affected by climate impacts should be involved in crafting the solutions. 

Key finding 4: 

Global emissions are not in line with where they need to be, and the window to limit warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels is closing rapidly.  

Global emissions are not in line with where they need to be, and the window to limit warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels is closing rapidly.

According to the IPCC AR6 Report, global greenhouse gas emissions must peak between 2020 and 2025 to limit warming to the Paris Agreement temperature goal. Global emissions have not yet peaked.  

Key finding 5: 

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs – self-determined plans put in place by each nation to achieve its climate goals) must be more ambitious.  

More leadership in reducing emissions is needed, particularly from developed countries.  

Key finding 6: 

Systems change is needed from everyone, everywhere.
No sector can escape the need for transformation.  

Two hands holding up a replica of the planet, symbolising that to take climate action change is needed from everyone, everywhere. No sector can escape the need for transformation. And everyone must look after our planet. The planet is in our hands.

Key finding 7: 

A fair, just transition can be applied to a range of different approaches and contexts, at different stages of the journey.  

Goals should be set in reasonable, manageable chunks to reduce the negative consequences of rapid systems change.  

Key finding 8: 

We must diversify the economy to cope with the changes that are needed.  

This includes contributions to the loss and damage fund agreed at COP27 and may involve restructuring entire supply chains.  

Key finding 9: 

We must secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.  

No-one is safe from climate change, and greater focus (and funding) is needed to reduce, adapt, and respond to these impacts.  

This is particularly vital for communities who are already feeling the effects but are neither prepared nor able to recover from disasters.  

Key finding 10: 

Climate planning must be coherent amongst all sectors and regions, and adaptation measures need to be more streamlined, ambitious, and ubiquitous.   

Word cloud of all 17 of the findings from the global stocktake: our planet's first assessment - country by country - of the progress we're making in the face of climate change; created by Ocean Generation.
Word cloud of the most-used words in the 17 findings from the Global Stocktake Report, 2023.

Key finding 11: 

Lots more support for locally led adaptation methods is needed. This includes improving access to critical resources and information, to empower communities forge their own solutions.  

Key finding 12: 

Despite the 1.5°C benchmark, we need to understand that impacts will worsen with every fraction of a degree of global warming, particularly for vulnerable communities who are already affected.  

It is vital that we do not exceed certain thresholds and ‘tipping points’ which will lead to irreversible changes. Filling knowledge gaps is crucial to identify these tipping points and effectively avoid them.   

Key finding 13: 

Climate finance is inadequate and needs to be urgently improved and scaled-up.  

Key finding 14: 

Access to climate finance in developing countries needs to be enhanced. 

Key finding 15: 

Finance and investment flows need to be directed towards the energy transition and away from greenhouse gases.   

Clean technology (eg. Renewable energy) is crucial to tackle climate change.

Ways of implementing this include:  

  • De-risking investments in clean-energy technologies. 
  • Creating pipelines of investible products for adaptation and mitigation. 
  • Subsidies. 

Key finding 16: 

Clean technology (eg. Renewable energy) is crucial to tackle climate change. A reduction in cost and push towards scalability is needed to rapidly deploy existing technologies and effectively integrate them into grid systems.  

More research is also needed to understand the role of technology and innovation (such as Carbon Capture and Storage) in supporting the transition.   

Key finding 17: 

We need international cooperation to reduce the barriers to climate action.  

This would involve empowering each nation to assess their climate risks and seek ways to improve them.   

breaching wave shared by Ocean Generation: Experts in Ocean education

What happens next?

The Global Stocktake is a vital tool to catalyse the urgency we need for robust, decisive action at the scale that is needed.  

It will enter the political phase during COP28, where discussions will take place and a new round of NDCs will be released. These decisions will determine how the world responds to this information at such a critical stage of the climate crisis.  

Read: Everything you ned to know about COP28.     

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What to expect from COP28

Hand reaching out into the Ocean water.

Everything you need to know: COP28.

It’s almost time for the world to come together once more, at COP28, to discuss our climate change commitments. 

Ahead of this year’s summit, the Global Stocktake provided a useful inventory of current progress toward global climate goals. COP28 will therefore represent an important opportunity for course correction and increased ambition towards Ocean-climate action.   

What is COP all about? 

What is COP? The Conference of Parties is the annual conference and decision-making body for global climate change commitments. Definition of COP on an image of a woman with short hair, walking away from a singular yellow chair on a beach. Shared by Ocean generation in an article about COP28 expectations.

The Conference Of Parties (COP) is an annual conference where the main decision-making for global climate change commitments takes place. 

And when is COP28? COP28 will be held between 30th November – 12th December 2023, at Expo City, Dubai, UAE.  

The formal goals of COP28 are:

  1. Energy and emissions: 

Phase-down demand for, and supply of all fossil fuels, leading to an energy system free of unabated fossil fuels by 2050 (which basically means we’d be free of fossil fuels used and produced without interventions to reduce the greenhouse gasses they emit throughout their life cycle).  

This includes tripling renewable energy capacity and doubling the rate of energy efficiency improvements across sectors by 2030.  

  1. Finance 

Ensuring that climate finance is affordable, available, and accessible to developing countries, by delivering the annual investment in climate action needed by 2030.  

  1. Putting nature, people, lives, and livelihoods first: 

Investing in people and nature through the loss and damage fund and encouraging all parties to align climate action with biodiversity targets, since one cannot exist without the other.  

  1. Inclusivity:  

Commitments towards strengthened collaboration with marginalised groups such as women, Indigenous Peoples, local communities, youth, people of determination, subnational actors, and faith-based organisations.  

There is no room for phasing-down the use of fossil fuels in a net zero world. We must phase-out fossil fuels to protect our planet. Quote shared by Ocean Generation: Experts in Ocean health.

Why is COP28 controversial?

COP28 has received a lot of attention from the media, particularly regarding this year’s COP President’s position within the fossil fuel industry. 

Dr Sultan al-Jaber is the minister of industry and advanced technology for UAE, and the managing director and group CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC Group). 

Concerns have been raised about the impartiality of climate talks and the influence of fossil fuel lobbyists, for whom blocking fossil fuel phase-out is within their economic interest. 

For instance, ADNOC announced a five-year, $150 billion investment in fossil fuel expansion in November 2022.

This is predicted to produce 7.5 billion barrels of oil and gas, 90% of which would have to remain in the ground to meet the International Energy Agency’s net zero emissions scenario. 

How can we spot when climate-dialogue is shifted towards the interests of the fossil fuel industry? 

Decoding climate dialogue – it’s all in the wording: 

When navigating climate conferences, it’s important to understand key terms and phrasing which may open loopholes and derail progress. 

Accurately decoding the dialogue helps us to stay diligent, see past greenwashing and spot false solutions. 

This is particularly important during discussions on topics which divide the crowd.

Two little penguins on ice in the Antarctic. The accompanying wording reads: When navigating climate conferences, it’s important to understand key terms and phrasing which may open loopholes and derail progress. Shared by Ocean Generation as part of their series of everything you need to know about COP.

Here are some key phrases to look out for this year: 

  • Unabated fossil fuels:  

Fossil fuels burned without using technologies to capture the resulting CO2 emissions.

  • Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) 

The relative importance of CCS remains contentious in climate discussions. 

What is CCS?

Carbon capture and storage is a process used to capture the carbon dioxide produced by power generation or industrial activity, transporting it, and storing it deep underground.

The science tells us that while CCS has the potential to play a key role in meeting climate change targets (eg. For heavy industry that’s much harder to decarbonise. And once we reach net zero, it can help tip us back the other way), but it’s not the silver-bullet solution to the current problem. 

Focussing on mobilising CCS instead of simply keeping fossil fuels in the ground is a distraction. It delays the inevitable transition away from fossil fuels that needs to happen. 

  • Phase-down emissions 

There is no room for phasing-down in a net-zero world; we must phase-out.  

The use of the word ‘emissions’ also deliberately omits fossil fuels from final decisions. This ambiguous phrasing provides a loophole for their continued growth and development. 

The focus must therefore be on ‘phasing-out fossil fuels.’ 

Ocean spotlight at COP28: 

Motorised boat on a dry stretch of land that should be water. The words read: Our Ocean is increasingly recognised in global climate dialogue and will take the spotlight at COP28 during the ‘Nature, Land use and Oceans’ thematic day (9th December 2023). This dedicated day aims to support climate-aligned and nature positive use of land and Ocean systems.  

This reflects the increasing focus towards ‘blue ambition’ and the growing recognition that when we protect the Ocean, we also protect ourselves.

Our Ocean is increasingly recognised in global climate dialogue and will take the spotlight at COP28 during the ‘Nature, Land use and Oceans’ thematic day (9th December 2023). This dedicated day aims to support climate-aligned and nature positive use of land and Ocean systems. 

This reflects the increasing focus towards ‘blue ambition’ and the growing recognition that when we protect the Ocean, we also protect ourselves. 

Ocean action is climate action and climate action is Ocean action. 

Ignace Beguin Billecocq, Ocean Lead for UN Climate Change High-Level Champions.
Are the conversations at COP going to cut it? We need action, not promises. Implementation, not good intentions. This article runs down Ocean Generation's expectations for COP28.

Ocean Generation’s hopes and expectations for COP28: 

We will always welcome more commitments to safeguard our Ocean, but this year we want to see promises turn to progress, and ideas turn to action.

This includes:  

  • Decarbonisation across every sector.  

New research suggests that we have less than six years before global warming of 1.5°C is inevitable. Rapid, widespread reduction of CO2 emissions is essential to steer us away from this fate. 

Decarbonisation efforts should seek alternative fuels and port infrastructure for Ocean shipping, enabling technologies to connect new and existing marine-renewable energy to the grid, and strengthened net-zero commitments across fisheries and aquaculture supply chains.  

Opportunities to incentivise emissions reductions within the Ocean-tourism sector should also be considered. 

  • Strengthening of mitigation and adaptation commitments.  

Commitments made in the landmark High Seas Treaty agreement earlier in 2023 must be actioned in climate policies, to meet the goal of protecting 30% of the Ocean by 2030. Focus must also be drawn to the remaining 70%, to build progress toward the Ocean we need.  

Further restoration and protection of “blue carbon” ecosystems (such as seagrasses, mangroves, tidal marshes) within exclusive economic zones must be included in national commitments to ensure their sustained benefits (such as carbon sequestration and flood protection).  

  • Mainstreaming Ocean-action.   

Now, more than ever, widespread recognition of our Ocean’s pivotal role in combatting climate change is vital. 

We need increased Ocean-recognition in global climate dialogue, and countries must commit to mainstreaming Ocean-actions into their national commitments.  

These Ocean-climate solutions must be integrated into biodiversity goals since one cannot exist without the other.   

Blue carbon ecosystems reduce impacts of climate change. What are blue carbon ecosystems?   Blue carbon is any carbon stored by the Ocean so blue carbon ecosystems are ecosystems that make that carbon storage in the Ocean possible. Examples include mangrove trees, salt marshes and sea grass meadows.
  • Inclusive and mobilised solutions for all.   

No-one is safe from climate change, so no-one should be left out of forging solutions.

We need full empowerment and collaboration with marginalised groups, especially those that are disproportionately impacted by climate change. Community-led marine management should play a central role, and this must be enabled by providing access to critical resources and information.  

Stable and accessible finance flows are needed to provide a healthy Ocean for all.   

  • Filling knowledge gaps in this critical Decade for Ocean Science.  

Strengthening of Ocean-focused research and standardised data sharing is critical to effectively implement and manage Ocean-actions.  

How to stay up to date with all things COP28 

Follow Ocean Generation on your favourite social platform for COP updates, progress, Ocean wins, and actions.  

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7 Ocean wins from COP27

Incredible Ocean photo. Waves of the Ocean are in a spiral formation.

Everything you need to know: COP27 outcomes.

COP27 was the third longest COP in history – but what Ocean and planet wins did the global climate summit deliver?

One things was strikingly clear throughout COP27: Climate change has become mainstream.

Global coverage of the biggest climate summit made headlines through the weeks, providing hope or despair, depending on where you looked.  

Planet Earth from space. Text on the image of our blue planet reads: The time for climate action is now. Together for implementation. In this article, Ocean Generation shares what Ocean wins came from COP27 and climate action we can take to look after our blue planet.

What was the biggest win at COP27? 

The push for stronger climate financing measures resulted in the historic outcome of establishing a ‘loss and damage fund’. Although the finer details hadn’t been drafted at the end of the climate conference, this was still the prominent highlight of COP27.

This fund will only be available for developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate-related disasters. This is a crucial win for small island nations.

What is loss and damage, in the context of climate conversations?

In a COP27 interview, Dr. Kees van der Geest, Senior Migration Expert, United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), explained what loss and damage means in a nutshell: 

“I’ve been working on it [loss and damage] for 10 years. ‘Loss and damage’ is really about situations; where people live in places where the impacts of climate change are so severe that adaptation is no longer possible or feasible. It is not necessarily a future scenario because that is the lived reality for some people now.” 

Read: Here’s an article about the loss and damage fund established at COP27 for further reading.

6 images in a grid presenting various environments on Earth and how climate change impacts us all. Image 1: Two children look out at the Ocean; a rainbow is over the Ocean. Image 2: A dry planet with rocks/ Image 3: A young woman in a business suit running along the beach. Image 4: A green turtle raising its head to the Ocean's waterline. Image 5: An aerial photo of trees; mist is rolling in. Image 6: Hands of a person reaching into dirty drinking water. Text on the image reads climate changes us all.

What was the biggest disappointment of COP27?  

With global warming at 1.1C, COP27 proved that the scientific consensus of limiting warming to 1.5C was not being taken seriously enough. The final decision made no mention of phasing down fossil fuels, except for coal, with the power of fossil fuel delegates tremoring through this decision.  

The IPCC (a kind of survival guide for humanity) stresses that global emissions must decline 45% by 2030. If we want to keep this limit alive, we need to peak global emissions by 2025.

This does not mean that we should just wait until COP28 in hopes of sweeping action.

In every corner of the world, people are rallying together to implement ambitious initiatives and COP27 has also shed light on many positive developments.

For people and the planet. 

And the Ocean!  

Close up photo of the Ocean. Little ripples in the water show how delicate the movement of the Ocean can be be.
In this article about Ocean wins at COP27, Ocean Generation shares outcomes of the worlds biggest climate sumit.

Seven Ocean wins from COP27: 

1. Young people are part of the decision-making progress.

COP27 hosted a Youth and Children Pavilion, marking the first official space for young people at a COP.

Another milestone came from YOUNGO, the official children and youth constituency of the UNFCCC, being recognised as stakeholders in designing and implementing climate policies.

2. Enthusiasm for the energy transition.

Despite the disappointment with curbing fossil fuels, the enthusiasm for a just energy transition is undeniable. Renewable energies are here to stay.

Some of the renewable energy transition commitments include:

  • Tanzania updated their NDC to achieve 80% adoption of renewable energies by 2025 (from 60% in 2015).
  • The Just Energy Transition Partnership for Indonesia which launched at the G20 summit, in parallel to COP 27, will secure $20 billion from wealthy economies to scale up renewables like solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal.
3. The Global Methane Pledge gains momentum.

In the first week of COP27, we shared that 130 countries has joined the Global Methane Pledge. By the end of COP27, that number grew to 150 countries.

4. Decarbonising the shipping industry is a serious priority.

There has been massive mobilisation to curb shipping emissions.

Text quote on an image of a shipping boat out at sea. It reads: "If shipping was a standalone economy, it would be the 10th largest emitter." Quote by President Joe Biden.

Some of the measures include:

  • More countries, ports and companies stated their plans to support the Green Shipping Challenge. Here’s a list of the various announcements made.
  • The EU’s “Fit for 55” package proposal includes the first ever carbon market for shipping and adoption of cleaner fuels.
  • Noteworthy policy recommendation: No one country is responsible for a majority of shipping emissions but a study conducted by Transport & Environment showed that a zero-emission mandate in EU, China, and US could decarbonise 84% of global shipping. 
5. The Ocean is part of the final COP27 cover decision.

In 2022, the Ocean had a seat at climate conversations at COP27.

The importance of Ocean-based climate action was highlighted and the COP27 cover decision emphasised this need and encouraged nations to “blue” their NDC’s.

6. Funds will be made available for early-warning systems.

Vulnerable nations need early-warning systems for adaptation and building resilience. UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced a $3.1 billion plan to support the development of these systems to protect people within the next five years.

7. Spotlight on nature-based Ocean solutions.

We cannot address climate change without considering the Ocean.

As more people realise this, we’re seeing great initiatives that support protecting the Ocean and ensuring its health:

  • The Great Blue Wall Initiative aims to protect marine areas to counteract the effects of climate change and global warming. 
  • Hope for Coral Reefs – Egypt announced protection for the entire Great Fringing Reef in the Red Sea, creating a 2000km marine protected area (MPA).  
  • The Mangrove Breakthrough Alliance aims to secure the future of 15 million hectares of mangroves globally, by 2030, through collective action.  
  • The Convex Seascape Survey is a research programme aiming to provide critical data and insights on the connections between carbon and the Ocean.  

“The Ocean and nature are our greatest allies to mitigate and adapt to climate change, as conservation efforts have a “triple bottom line” in that they address economies, communities, and nature.” 

Razan Al Mubarak, President, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 
Image split in two; horizontally. In the top half there is a city skyline representing people. In the bottom image is a coral reef; representing the Ocean. Ocean Generation's brand trust circle is in the center of the image. Ocean Generation is a registered Ocean charity teaching the world about the Ocean and how to live sustainably.

Ocean Generation’s comment on COP27: 

Like any other COP, there is always going to be tension between progress and potential setbacks.

While there will always be room for doing more and better, COP is the only summit where world leaders and multiple stakeholders come together to discuss our environmental impacts and implement solutions.
And without it, the conversations would be more diluted, disjointed, and slow to progress.  

The progress made year on year at COP should translate into hope for all.

The decisions we make in this decade will have long-lasting impacts and we hope the Ocean continues to receive exponentially more importance in COP28’s agenda in 2023.

In the midst of increasing climate-related disasters perpetuated by other crises, hope can be instilled through action. We need the Ocean more than it needs us. So, let’s act now – in whatever position, wherever we are. However big, however small.

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How to Be a More Conscious Consumer 

Asian woman surrounded by neutral coloured clothing, emphasising our overconsumption mentality. Ocean Generation is sharing 5 strategies to become a more conscious consumer in this article.

5 Tips to become a more conscious consumer.

Overconsumption is one of the hallmarks of modern societies. We are quite literally sold the idea that consumption will boost our happiness. Clever marketing campaigns and the media champion this ‘more is better’ lifestyle.  

It can be easy to be caught up in this world of overconsumption. It’s easy to forget the impacts that our consumption habits have on both people and the planet.

We’re sharing a brief overview of these impacts below. Take a deeper dive into the impact of both appliances and textiles as part of our “What we Purchase” series. 

Man in a simple t-shirt and jeans handing off a bag to an extended hand while reaching for a new bag that looks exactly the same. The image symbolises how we over-consume fast fashion. To protect the planet, we need to address our more is best mindset. Ocean Generation is sharing tips to be a more conscious consumer.

The products that we consume impact the environment throughout their lifespans. From the sheer volume of water used in textile production to the generation of vast amounts of e-waste.

Waste from discarded products not only contaminates the environment, but also puts human health at risk. 

Globally, there is uneven distribution of these environmental and societal impacts of product consumption. Most impacts are felt in developing countries which receive exports of discarded products. This is despite developed countries being the primary product consumers.  

We need to start taking responsibility for our overconsumption.   

What we purchase directly impacts the use of natural resources, production practices, and the quantity of waste accumulated.

So, making more sustainable decisions about what we purchase has the power to reduce not only greenhouse gas emissions, but also wider environmental impacts.    

How to be a more environmentally conscious consumer:    

We’re all taught in school to reuse, reduce and recycle but there’s much more we can do to tackle overconsumption.

Our Plastic Intelligence Framework – which breaks down a hierarchy of actions; The 5 R’s: rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle – can be used to guide consumer decision making around plastics

Ocean Generation has developed a Plastic Intelligence Framework that outlines the most impactful ways individuals can make a positive impact and curb their waste generation. The 5 most impactful ways we can address plastic pollution in order of positive impact are: Rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle.

The order of these actions is deliberate, with the most impactful change being to rethink, followed by refuse, reduce, reuse, and finally recycle.  

Utilising the 5R framework, we can also address broader sustainable consumption. How? What do these steps actually involve? Let’s start from the top.  

How to be a more environmentally conscious consumer:    

1. Rethink your relationship with products 

To do this, we need to remember that our ‘needs’ may differ from our ‘wants’. Have a think about what items you consider to be essential for your well-being and happiness.  

Advertising and media influence the perception what we ‘need’. It is our responsibility to acknowledge this and form our own opinions about what items are necessary in our lives.  

If you decide that you do really need an item, then that’s okay! The focus of rethinking is to slow down consumption. This is achieved by taking a moment to consider our relationship with items. 

2. Refuse to purchase unnecessary items.  

Female hand trying to force and over-full closet closed. The image symbolises our overconsumption habits when it comes to fashion and shopping.

Is an item of clothing part of a fast fashion trend, destined to be worn once then live at the back of your wardrobe until it is discarded?  

Do you really need multiple devices, or will one do the job? 

Refusing to purchase unnecessary items minimises waste produced.  

3. Reduce your overall consumption. 

If you find yourself needing to buy something, then where possible, opt for quality over quantity.  

If a product is low-quality, it is likely to be less durable and have a shorter useful lifespan. Question if you need the low-quality item. Can you wait until you have the resources to buy a better-quality product; built to last longer?

The result? Less waste. 

4. Reuse products to extend their lifespan.  

Reuse can take many forms.  

In the world of textiles, renting, remaking, repairing, and reselling are all part of the transition to ‘slow’ fashion. Online resale and rental platforms are becoming increasingly popular, along with second-hand shops and upcycled items.  

Explore repairing your damaged items before discarding them. It is never too late to learn how to sew a button. For more complex repairs, such as of household appliances, try checking out a local repair workshop.  

Before buying new appliances, consider refurbished items (products that are repaired/restored to working condition) or remanufactured items (used products that get dismantled, their worn parts replaced, and reassembled to like-new condition).  

Ultimately, reusing items decreases demand for resource extraction and minimises waste. 

We can't recycle our way out of our waste problems. Reducing waste - at its source - is key. To achieve that, we need to rethink our consumer behaviour.

5. Recycle at designated points.  

Remember that while the rethinking, refusing, reducing, and reusing are more impactful, recycling is still a valuable process. This is because again it reduces the amount of waste generated.  

If an item is truly at the end of its lifespan, recycle it at a designated recycling point.  

We don’t have to be perfectly zero-waste or plastic-free consumers to make a positive difference   

However, what we all must do is start making changes. Here are 20 ways to address your daily plastic waste on a daily basis to get you started.

   

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12 interesting coral reef facts

Bright yellow fish next o a coral reef. Shared by Ocean Generation in an article about interesting coral reef facts.

Coral reefs are one of the most indispensable ecosystems on Earth.

What makes corals are so brightly coloured? Why do they turn white when they’re unhealthy? We’ve got you covered. Below, we’re sharing 12+ fascinating facts about coral reefs: The most biologically diverse ecosystem on Earth.

Corals reefs are large skeletons (because they’re made up of tiny animals a.k.a. ‘coral polyps’). They’re home to hundreds of plants and organisms, support fisheries and may host the answers needed to develop new cancer medication. 

How many of these coral reef facts do you know?

Close up of dark blue coral reef in the Ocean. Shared by Ocean Generation: Experts in Ocean health since 2009.

1. Coral reefs occur in more than 100 countries and territories whilst covering only 0.2% of the seafloor. They reside in tropical and semi-tropical waters.  

2. The single-celled algae, zooxanthellae, that live in the tissues of the coral polyps can fuel up to 90% of the reef-building coral’s energy requirements for growth and reproduction. Additionally, zooxanthellae are responsible for the vibrant colours of the corals!  

3. In return, the corals provide them with a home to reside in and nutrients to aid photosynthesis. Thus, fulfilling a mutually beneficial (‘symbiotic’) relationship! 

Colourful coral reef, bursting with life. There's a sea turtle and some orange fish swimming in the Ocean around the reef.

4. A healthy coral reef can limit coastal wave energy by up to 97%. That alone makes corals a crucial shoreline protector, like some other coastal ecosystems.

Coral reefs protect around $6 billion worth of built infrastructure from flooding around the world, from an economic perspective.

5. Large scale losses of coral reefs are due to a warming Ocean and climate change.

Land-based pollution of nutrients and sediments from agriculture, marine pollution, overfishing and destructive fishing practices, and outbreaks of coral diseases and crown-of-thorn starfish (see below image) are all causes of local coral losses. 

Large, purple crown of thorn starfish on the seafloor in the Ocean. These starfish threaten the livelihoods of coral reefs. Facts about corals shared by Ocean Generation.

6. Coral reefs support at least a quarter of all marine species. What’s more: Coral reefs are a home to an average of 830,000 species (550,000 – 1,330,000). The range varies widely due to large populations of small cryptic species being difficult to sample.  

7. Astonishingly, scientists estimate that roughly 74% of coral reef species remain undiscovered! 

8. Ocean acidification is a major threat to coral reefs.

The decrease in pH (making water acidic) hinders corals and other organisms from forming their skeletons. This makes them especially vulnerable in juvenile stages.

The weakening of these skeletons also results in habitat loss, low reef biodiversity, coastline erosion etc. 

9. Coral reefs subjected to higher temperature levels increase the likelihood of abrupt and irreversible changes. According to the IPCC, a record-shattering warming world of 1.5°C would mean a 70-90% decline in coral reefs.  

10. Coral reef associated fisheries provide 70% of protein in the diets of Pacific Islanders. These fisheries support around 6 million people and are worth $6.8 billion annually.  

Coral in the Ocean experiencing coral bleaching. Corals turn white when they're bleached.

11. Corals can turn white due to coral bleaching. Climate change is a major driver of coral bleaching, and this process disrupts the symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae.  

As the algae is dispelled by the corals in an attempt to protect themselves, the corals vulnerability increases and they lose a major energy source. If the heat stress persists, corals are likely to die.  

Hands near the shoreline of the Ocean holding an unhealthy piece of coral. The coral is bleached white because of climate change. Image shared by Ocean Generation, experts in Ocean health and understandable environmental science.

Over half of the our coral reefs are already lost.

12. Coral restoration is a relatively new nature-based solution. Nature-based solutions refers to an umbrella of methods for reviving ecosystems in the face of adversity. 

A 2020 review stated that coral restoration projects report a survival rate between 60-70% with a report stating that 1.5C warming would render this solution to be ineffective.

The authors of the review noted that most projects are small-scale and that we’ll still require large-scale climate action to tackle the root of this issue. 

With over half of the world’s coral reefs already lost, it is evident that coral reefs are declining due to a multitude of human pressures.  

Some warm water corals have reached adaptation limits. Nevertheless, scientists and local communities are working extremely hard to continuously build on existing solutions and quickly adopt innovative approaches. 

The existential threat of the rise in global temperatures means that climate change action is urgently needed to establish coral reef resilience.  

Act now.

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The History of Fast Fashion

Green leaf poking out of a jean pocket, representing sustainable fashion. Shared by Ocean Generation.

A brief history of fast fashion and its impact on the planet. 

100 billion items of clothing are produced every year. That’s a 50% growth in just 15 years and the main culprit for this growth – fast fashion – shows little sign of slowing down. 

We’ve stitched together a brief history of fast fashion; from when fashion become fast, the impact it’s had on our blue planet, and what we can do to become sustainable fashion devotees.  

First: What is fast fashion?

Fast fashion can be defined as low-cost, trendy clothing rapidly produced by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.  

The focus of fast fashion is affordability and convenience – largely at the cost of people and the planet.  

Fast fashion plays into the idea that outfit repeating is a fashion faux pas. If you want to stay relevant, it’s believed you should be sporting the latest looks while they’re happening.  

Overproduction and overconsumption has resulted in the fashion industry being one of the world’s largest polluters. Jump here to read about the environmental impact of fast fashion.  

But how did we get here?  

Definition of fast fashion: Fast fashion is low-cost, trendy clothing rapidly produced by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. Fast fashion has a massive impact on our planet. Ocean Generation is sharing a brief history of fast fashion.

Once upon a time, in a slow fashion world

More than 20,000 years ago, people began hand sewing; using animal bones and horns as needles.  

Up until the early 1800’s, most people raised sheep or saved up to purchase wool to spin yarn to weave cloth and hand sew… You get the idea. 

Adding garments to your closet was a slow, infrequent process, driven by seasonal changes and growing pains. 

When was the first sewing machine invented?

It was only in 1830 – during the Industrial Revolution – that the fast fashion story really starts with the invention of the sewing machine. 

Barthelemy Thimonnier, a French tailor, invented a sewing machine that used a hooked needle and one thread to create a chain stitch (which is still commonly used in denim jeans). 

The first sewing machine was invented in 1830 by
Barthelemy Thimonnier. It had a hooked needle and created a chain stitch, which is still used on jeans today. Shared by Ocean Generation in the history of the fashion industry article.

With the advent of the sewing machine, clothes became easier, quicker, and cheaper to make. Clothing began to be made in bulk, in various sizes, rather than just being made to order. 

Dressmaking shops emerged to cater to the middle classes and – for the first time – people started wearing clothing for style, not just practical reasons.  

The fashion industry used to be slow. Sweatshops were the beginning of the end of that.

Shared by Ocean Generation this is a sweatshop of Mr. Goldstein, 30 Suffolk Street, New York City, photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine, February, 1908

What is a sweatshop?

Sweatshops are factories or workshops, especially in the clothing industry, where manual workers are employed at low wages for long hours and poor (or downright illegal) working conditions. 

To cater to the demand for clothing, sweatshops emerged in the 1800’s (and don’t be fooled: They still exist today.) 

“Fast fashion isn’t free. 
Someone, somewhere,  is paying.” 
Quote by Lucy Siegle regarding the fashion industry. In the image, an asian woman wears pink gloves poised under her chin.

Clothing becomes a form of personal expression: 1960s

By the 1960s and 1970s, young people were creating new trends and using clothing as a form of personal expression. 

There was increasing demand for affordable clothing. Textile mills opened across the developing world, and low-quality, mass-produced clothing took over.  

Shopping for new clothes became a hobby and a means of social status.  

When was the term fast fashion coined? 

In 1990, the New York Times published an article using the term ‘fast fashion’ for the first time. The piece was about a new fashion retailer with a mission to transform a garment – from an idea in the designer’s brain to being sold on racks in store – in only 15 days.  

This was the first article ever published using the term fast fashion. In 1990, the New York Times published an article about Zara stores coming to New York. Ocean Generation is sharing the impact of fast fashion on the planet.

It’s safe to say fast fashion had arrived.  

By the mid-1990s, online shopping took off – accelerating what was already a dizzying rate of textile consumption.  

No matter where you are in the world, chances are: If you see an outfit you like, online, you can buy it and have it on your doorstep in days. But at what cost?  

Two sets of socked feet are up in the air. One pair of feet is wearing green socks and the other is wearing mustard yellow socks. They are both wearing white strappy high heels and blue jeans.

Being fashionable shouldn’t cost the earth.  

All areas of fast fashion – super speedy production, use of synthetic fibres and dangerous chemicals, and competitive pricing – have massive negative impacts on our blue planet and the people involved in garment manufacturing.  

What’s more: Rapidly changing trends and clothing available at shockingly cheap prices instils a throw-away culture; as though clothing isn’t meant to be long-lasting or worn more than a few times.  

5 fast facts about fashion’s environmental impact.

And that’s the tip of the iceberg.

We’ve hardly touched on overconsumption, water usage, waste and haven’t even mentioned microplastics yet.  Read more about the impact of textiles on people and the planet.

Woman breaking through a piece of clear plastic with her hands. Learn about plastic pollution with Ocean Generation.

How does fast fashion impact the Ocean?  

Textiles in the fashion industry generally fit into two categories: Natural and synthetic.  

Natural materials (like wool and cotton) are made from plant and animal sources. They tend to be more expensive and last longer.  

Fast fashion relies on the cheaper (less, environmentally friendly) option: Synthetic materials. You’ll recognise these plastic-based materials in your clothing: Polyester, acrylic, and nylon. 

Synthetic fibres make up almost 60% of annual fibre consumption. Said differently: Our clothes are around 60% plastic. 

More than ever, our clothes are made of plastic. Just washing them can pollute the Ocean.  

Rainbow over the Ocean. It's like the Ocean is a pot of gold and really: it is. Our Ocean provides us with many resources and produces half the oxygen on Earth. Learn about the Oceans with Ocean Generation.

These synthetic fibres produce non-biodegradable waste that pollute the Ocean. How? A single 6kg laundry load releases up to 700,000 synthetic microfibres which pass through our drains and into our Ocean. 

Once in the Ocean, microfibres are ingested by Ocean life and end up making their way back up the food chain, to us, and pose numerous health risks.  

We can put fast fashion out of style.  

More and more, consumers are demanding sustainable clothing and calling out the true cost of the fashion industry. As a result, we’re starting to see some changes in the fashion industry, but there’s a long way to go.  

As recently as 2018, the fashion industry produced ~2.1 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally. Luckily for us, we can all directly influence the fashion industry and the impact it has.

As individuals, the first thing we need to tackle is our relationship with consumerism. 

Asian woman surrounded by a pile of clothing. Just her face showing amongst all the clothing and textiles. This photo represents the overconsumption in the fashion industry.

“What can I do to tackle fast fashion?” 

  • Continue to learn about how to spot fast fashion brands (then steer clear of them). 
  • Embrace buying less fast fashion items. (In a week or two, that item will be out of fashion anyway, right?) 
  • When you do shop for clothing, ensure you’re purchasing with long-term wear in mind. 
  • Support responsible, ethical clothing brands.  
  • Buy second hand. 
  • Only wash your clothes when they’re actually dirty.  
  • Be an outfit repeater (re-wear your clothing until it really is end-of-life). 
  • Repurpose clothing when they’re end-of-life. 
  • Remember that the most sustainable piece of clothing you have is the one already in your closet
  • Join the Wavemaker Programme for tools to accelerate your social actions. 
  • Subscribe to our newsletter for Ocean news, stories, and science.  

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The impact of fashion on people and planet: What we purchase

What's the impact of fast fashion on the environment? Ocean Generation is diving into fast fashion, textile production, where clothing actually goes when we recycle it and how we can all be sustainable fashion lovers. Image is of three ethnically diverse and fashionable women, looking off into the distance. They're each wearing a power suit.

What you need to know about the environmental impact of the textiles in fashion.

Textiles – including clothing and footwear – are an everyday essential across the world. Our clothes can not only keep us warm in the cold, dry in the rain, and protect us from the sun, but they can also be an invaluable way to express ourselves through fashion. 

Despite their prevalence in our lives, it can be easy to overlook where our textiles come from, and the impact that fashion items have on both people and the planet.  

In this article Ocean Generation is sharing the impact of fashion on the environment. In this image a woman in a bright, flowing yellow dress is at a skatepark. You cannot see her face but you can see her black sneaker resting on the skateboard.

Let’s look deeper into the textile industry by discussing the following key areas:  

  • Overconsumption 
  • Environmental Impacts of Textiles 
  • Societal Impacts of Textiles 

What are the origins of the textiles that we know and love? 

It is important to consider the behind-the-scenes processes involved in textile production and distribution. These are illustrated below. 

Infographic describing the behind-the-scenes processes in textile production: fron fibre production, spinning, knitting to wet processes, assembly and distribution. This article looks at the impact of fashion and textiles on the planet.

What’s the impact of overconsumption in fashion? 

With the rise of fast fashion and increasing connectivity in this digital world, getting swept up in fashion trends has never been easier.  

But let’s slow down for a minute to think about our changing consumption habits. Between 2000 and 2015, clothing production doubled from ~50 billion units to over 100 billion units. This trend is driven by an increasing middle-class population globally and rising per capita sales in mature economies.  

Why are sales rising? Fast fashion is the prime culprit here.  

The fast fashion phenomenon began in the 1990s, with low-priced and short-lived items being generated by cheap manufacturing. Today, influencers on various digital platforms often promote rapidly changing trends, driving frequent consumption.  

On top of this, we wear clothes significantly less during their lifespans. This is not without considerable economic loss, with US$ 460 billion of value lost globally each year from people throwing away clothes they could still wear.  

Hands working with a sewing machine. A piece of navy fabric is being transformed into a piece of sustainable fashion. Shared by Ocean Generation - experts in Ocean health since 2009.

How do textiles and the fashion industry impact the environment?  

It isn’t just the economic loss that is a problem, however, as textile production, use, and disposal have significant environmental impacts which we’ll explore next.  

In 2018, the fashion industry produced ~2.1 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally. This weight is equivalent to that of 350 million adult male African Savanna elephants. GHG emissions are important to consider as they contribute to climate change.  

The textile value chain (the whole product lifecycle) is notoriously water intensive, consuming 215 trillion litres of water annually. This is equivalent to 86 million Olympic-size swimming pools.  

The fashion industry produced 2.1 billion tonnes of GHG in 2018; equivalent to the weight of 350 million adult male African elephants.

Overexploitation of our finite water sources can lead to major environmental disasters. An example of this is the Aral Sea Crisis, where water extraction for cotton irrigation desiccated what used to be the fourth largest lake in the world. 

Chemical contamination of textile wastewater is an environmental concern. The textile industry uses over 15,000 chemicals, many of which are harmful to the planet. Toxic substances such as reactive dyes and heavy metals often pollute local aquatic ecosystems.  

Did you know that washing textiles releases microfibres into the environment?   

All textiles are culprits, whether natural (such as cotton), semi-synthetic (including viscose) or synthetic (for example polyester).  

It was found that an average 6kg wash load of synthetic acrylic fabric releases over 700,000 fibres. These microfibres have been found in a range of environments, from the deep sea to Mount Everest, and can be ingested by aquatic organisms including sea cucumbers and hermit crabs.  

So far, we have investigated the impact of textile production and use on the environment.

What is the fate of discarded textiles?

In 2015, just 13% of total material input was recycled following clothing use. Most post-consumer waste is instead incinerated, landfilled, or exported to developing countries to be sold in second-hand markets.

Infographic from Ocean Generation sharing the fate of discarded clothing. Only 13% of clothing is actually recycled - the majority is exported to developing countries, incinerated or landfilled.

This is not to mention the pre-consumer waste comprised of new, unworn, or returned clothes that fail to be worn by consumers. The result? The accumulation of enormous quantities of textile waste.  

What are the societal impacts of textiles?  

While textiles are undeniably harmful to the planet, their production, use and disposal can have negative impacts on people too.  

The untreated textile wastewater that pollutes aquatic ecosystems also harms the communities using contaminated water systems for fishing, washing, and drinking.  

Breaking news: Plastic has been found in our lungs, blood, and even breast milk. Ocean Generation - experts in plastic pollution - share facts about plastic and the harms of plastic on human health.

Microfibres released into our waterways infiltrate human diets via tap water, beer, sea salt, and seafood, and have even been detected in human lungs.  

Textile waste exported to developing countries is sorted for sale in second-hand markets by low paid workers in unsafe conditions.  

The impacts of the textile industry are unevenly distributed, with the brunt being taken by developing countries where textile and garment manufacturing occurs. This is despite consumption primarily occurring in developed countries.  

Sounding familiar? The fate of textile waste mirrors that of both plastic and electronic waste.  

Global clothing production doubled from 50 billion units to over 100 billion units between 2000 and 2015. Fast fashion facts shared by Ocean Generation.

So, what is being done to repair the environmental impacts of the textile industry?  

There has been progress at reducing the environmental impact of the textile industry at various stages, from treating textile wastewater using plants to the degradation of textile waste by enzymes produced by bacteria and fungi.  

While these innovations are exciting, further development is needed before wider use.   

In the meantime, increasing awareness of the negative environmental and societal impacts of the textile industry has resulted in rising interest of new business models. Reselling, renting, repairing, and remaking increase product lifetimes, and this is a vital step in the move towards ‘slow’ fashion.

What is my role in the future of sustainable fashion – specifically, textiles?

You, as a textiles consumer, can drive change.

Here’s what action you can take:

  • Try to rethink your relationship with clothes. Some helpful tips on how to become a slower, more mindful consumer can be found here: How to take the fast out of fast fashion
  • Have a think about whether you need and will value that garment before making a purchase.  
  • Browse a second-hand shop before buying new.
       
  • Refuse to purchase unnecessary or low-quality, less durable clothes where possible.  
  • Think before putting your clothes in the wash. If possible, air out clothes or hand wash to remove specific stains. Try to avoid tumble drying too.  
  • Look into washing machine filters or washing bags designed to catch microfibres. 
  • Explore renting, leasing, updating, repairing, or reselling textiles to extend their lifespan. 
  • Try your hand at simple textile repairs, such as sewing buttons or patching up a hole, either by teaching yourself or attending a local repair workshop. 
  • If your garment is truly at the end of its lifespan, recycle it at a designated recycling point. 


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The rise of e-waste and what we can do about it: What we purchase.

Old TV set in a wheat-field. Ocean Generation is sharing facts about the rise of e-waste, the environmental impacts, and what we can do about it.

What you need to know about the environmental impact of e-waste.

Appliances are a marker of technological advancement and play a significant role in many of our lives. While they can be beneficial, it is important to consider the impact that these appliances, as e-waste, have on both people and the planet.  

Imagine your typical day, what appliances do you use? Do you work using a laptop or browse social media on a phone? Maybe you use a washing machine to do your laundry? Or perhaps you listen to music using headphones or use a refrigerator to keep your food fresh? 

Globally, the consumption of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) is rising by 2.5 million metric tons (Mt) each year (excluding solar electricity panels). This is due to higher disposable incomes, more people living in towns and cities, and further wide scale development of industries.  

In this article Ocean Generation is sharing facts about the rise of e-waste, the environmental impacts of e-waste, and what we can do about it.

What is e-waste

Despite increasing government influence over how discarded electronics (known as ‘e-waste’) is dealt with, and innovative e-waste recycling strategies, the sheer quantities and hazardous contents of e-waste remains a concern. 

We will discuss three main areas of interest when it comes to the impact of appliances:  

  • Use of Natural Resources 
  • Creation of E-waste  
  • Impact of E-waste 

What kind of materials can be found in appliances? 

Many materials are used to build the appliances that we know and love.  

From precious gold to hazardous mercury, up to 69 out of the 118 elements from the periodic table can be found in EEE.  

Depleting these limited natural resources is an issue in and of itself, not to mention the greenhouse gas emissions associated with resource extraction which contribute to climate change.  

The variety of materials in appliances also make it much more difficult to deal with e-waste, and we will return to this issue after discussing how e-waste is generated.  

How is e-waste created?

What happens when appliances are no longer used?  

Disposal of ‘obsolete’ appliances contribute to e-waste. This is one of the fastest growing solid waste streams in the world, with 53.6 Mt of e-waste generated globally in 2019 and expected growth to 74.7 Mt by 2030.  

To put this into perspective, the weight of e-waste that we produced in 2019 is equivalent to that of 53,600 blue whales, with an expected increase to the weight of 74,700 blue whales in 2030.  

Image of a blue whale in the the Ocean - Earth's biggest mammal. The text reads: The weight of e-waste produced in 2019 is equivalent to the weight of 53,600 blue whales. Facts shared by Ocean Generation.

What is causing growing quantities of e-waste?  

You may have heard of the term ‘planned obsolescence’.

This refers to goods being produced with intentionally short useful lifespans, encouraging consumers to buy a replacement sooner than they should have to.  

Planned obsolescence is one of the big contributors to the rise of e-waste, and examples can be found throughout the tech world, from the deliberate slowing down of smartphone processors to companies frequently creating new models to make old ones seem unfashionable.  

This new ‘normal’ perception of appliances having short lifespans fuels unnecessary consumption.  

What’s the environmental impact of e-waste? 

But why does it matter that e-waste is on the rise? In short, e-waste is problematic because of low recycling rates, export to developing countries, and the environmental and human health risks associated with improper e-waste management.  

Below is the fate of e-waste generation in numbers:  

Infographic from Ocean Generation. In 2019, 17.4% of e-waste generated was formally documented as collected and recycled. 82.6? of e-waste had an undocumented fate.

Many disposed appliances end up in landfill or incinerators in developed countries or are exported to developing countries.  

Ocean Generation shares an infographic asking what happens to the 82.6% of undocumented 
e-waste? In 2019, 8% was landfilled or incinerated and between 7-20% was exported to developing countries.

The lack of e-waste recycling means more raw materials are extracted to meet the growing demand for electronic products.  

Additionally, as seen with plastics and textiles, the export of e-waste to be dealt with by informal sectors (unregulated economic activities outside government control) in developing countries is a major issue. 

Out of sight, out of mind? No longer.  

Despite the efforts of the Basel Convention to restrict the transport of hazardous waste between countries, e-waste exporters often exploit loopholes, such as by labelling shipments as “charitable donations” or by claiming that the e-waste is “repairable”.  

The consequence?

Informal sectors in developing countries are dumped with large quantities of e-waste. Low paid workers in unsafe conditions process this e-waste using rudimentary techniques including manual disassembly, open incineration and acid dipping. Their aim is to tap into the literal gold mine of valuable resources hidden amongst this waste.  

Did you know: Up to 69 of the 118 elements in the periodic table can be found in electronic e-waste.
Infographic shared by Ocean Generation.

However, while there are valuable materials to be retrieved, e-waste also contains many hazardous substances which endanger the environment and humans alike.

Pollution of soil, air, and water with flame retardants and heavy metals (such as lead, copper, and cadmium) negatively impacts a variety of organisms, including reptiles, fish, crustaceans, and birds.  

Not only is wildlife impacted, but these dangerous substances also harm humans both through direct contact with workers and by making their way into the food and water that civilians consume.  

For example, the levels of lead and cadmium in polished rice from an e-waste recycling area in Southeast China were found to be 2-4 times higher than what is considered safe. Drinking water in this area was also contaminated, containing levels of lead up to 8 times higher than the local drinking water standard.  

So, what is being done to tackle the environmental impacts of e-waste?  

While 71% of the world’s population was guided by some form of national policy, legislation, or regulation to govern e-waste in 2019, this equates to less than half the countries in the world.  

This means that there is still much progress to be made until e-waste is sufficiently managed across the world.  

Interestingly, valuable materials can be extracted from e-waste using bacteria and fungi, but these recycling techniques still have some way to go before they can be scaled up.  

How can I become a conscious appliance consumer   

Having a responsible relationship with appliances is possible.  

  • Remember that a ‘want’ may differ from a ‘need’, so question whether you actually need that appliance before purchasing it.  
  • Refuse to purchase unnecessary or low-quality appliances where possible.  
  • When purchasing appliances, investigate refurbished items (products that are repaired/restored to working condition) or remanufactured items (used products that get dismantled, their worn parts replaced, and reassembled to like-new condition) before buying new.  
  • If your appliance breaks, consider repairing it yourself or booking a certified repair service.  
  • If your appliance is at the end of its lifespan, recycle it.


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