The Pine Gulch and Cameron Peak fires of 2020 are just some disasters that have caused us here in Colorado to be all too familiar with the devastating impacts and increasing threat of climate change. The direct impact of climate change on our lives demonstrates the interconnectedness between threats to our well-being, security and economy brought on by a rapidly changing environment.
We are facing a climate emergency, and the solution may lie in our ocean. Covering 70% of our planet, the ocean has the potential to provide 20% of the emission reductions required to limit global temperature rise to 1.5℃, and blue carbon ecosystems can store 10 times more carbon per area than boreal, temperate, or tropical forests. This National Ocean Month, we want to celebrate recent ocean climate action while simultaneously shining a light on the progress still to be made.
The year 2021 has been promising on this front. In the early months of President Biden’s time in office we have seen encouraging action surrounding the ocean and climate solutions. With input from Tribes, local officials, fishermen and other stakeholders, the Biden administration has pledged to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030. In addition to this goal, we watched as the Biden administration set a goal of 30 gigawatts of renewable energy production from offshore wind by this same timeline. These goals, in combination with serious investments in research and the promotion of environmental justice, give hope to a federal foundation of climate solutions by means of our oceans.
Congress is listening to the consensus of scientists, the international community, policy experts and ocean advocates that the ocean should be leveraged as a climate solution. This month on World Oceans Day, Representative Raul Grijalva of Arizona re-introduced the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act. This comprehensive and monumental bill is rooted in scientific research, leaning on policy experts, ocean advocacy coalitions, and prioritizing Indigenous knowledge and expertise to achieve the Biden administration’s climate goals and put the U.S. in a position to lead the world in ocean governance.
Taking a holistic approach, this bill will promote clean energy, protect crucial blue carbon ecosystems, stimulate the economy, protect vulnerable communities and uplift marginalized populations, amend and reauthorize important ocean legislation, and advance climate-friendly fishing, among other ambitious initiatives.
This bill will reduce greenhouse gas emissions through prohibiting new oil and gas leasing in much of the Outer Continental Shelf while setting timely goals for offshore wind production and increasing the fuel efficiency of fishing vessel fleets. Each year, $600 million will be dedicated to the restoration of coastal and marine ecosystems, which will serve to protect coastal communities from erosion, flooding and storms, while sequestering carbon and providing habitat for marine wildlife. A $10 billion investment in coastal restoration projects will focus specifically on stimulating the economy, providing jobs for workers impacted by COVID-19, and assisting communities of color, Tribal and rural communities, and low-income populations. With leadership from the Biden administration and our elected members of Congress, we can take immediate action and accomplish these course-altering goals.
This is important to us at Inland Ocean Coalition because of the systems-based approach that the OBCSA takes, recognizing that actions taken anywhere impact people and places everywhere. This bill needs the support of those all across the U.S., empowering and relying on voices from inland communities to advocate for ocean protection.
We thank Congresswoman Diana DeGette and Congressman Joe Neguse for their support of this legislation through the cosponsorship of the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act. It is through this kind of Congressional support that we can advance ocean climate action. We now call upon the rest of Congress to join the effort towards climate resilience to save our planet and our people.
Click here to encourage your legislative leaders to support the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act!