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Antarctic meeting chance to thaw opposition to Southern Ocean protection

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The 40th annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and its 26 members will meet from the 18th October to discuss, among other things, three large-scale marine protection proposals in the East Antarctic, Weddell Sea and Antarctic Peninsula.

Protecting these areas will safeguard almost an extra 4 million square kilometres of ocean from human activities, providing a critical safe haven for amazing wildlife, such as whales, seals, penguins and krill in a further 1% of the global Ocean.

Throughout this year the #CallonCCAMLR public campaign, supported by Antarctica2020 and its NGO partners, have been building momentum on the need for world leaders to protect Antarctica’s Southern Ocean. With the support of almost 1.5 million people worldwide who signed a petition urging for protection of this key ocean area, high-level engagement has been growing, with political leaders from France, the EU, Germany and Spain receiving this urgent public call for action.

“Once again, people are rising up to save the icy foundations of our planet and our voices are being heard by key decision-makers,” said Philippe Cousteau, ocean activist and grandson of legendary Ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

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At a recent high-level Antarctic event in Madrid, John Kerry, the US President’s Special Envoy on Climate, also highlighted that there is currently a moment of diplomatic “ripeness” to make progress.

“In the face of the severity of the climate and biodiversity crises, this CCAMLR meeting will be an important test of countries’ commitment to multilateralism. The science is unequivocal.

Countries need to put aside political differences and work together closely to agree to swiftly protect this last wilderness.“ Said Geneviève Pons, Director General and Vice President of Europe Jacques Delors and Antarctica2020 co-chair.

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The region is undergoing dramatic changes from warming temperatures and melting ice, pushing it closer to several tipping points with potentially disastrous global ramifications for humanity and biodiversity. 

Antarctica is our neighbour. Wherever you are in the world you will be impacted by what happens down there, which is why it is essential we shine a light on the importance of its protection for our planet and our Ocean.” said Lewis Pugh, endurance swimmer, UN Patron of the Oceans and Antarctica2020 champion.

Currently almost all of CCAMLR’s members support additional protection. Only Russia and China’s backing is needed to get the required consensus for designation of these marine protected areas.

“This is a very clear signal for leaders to continue using their diplomatic and economic clout and intensify their efforts to secure the largest act of ocean protection in history,” said Pascal Lamy, President of the Paris Peace Forum and Antarctica2020 co-chair.

Notes to editor

Antarctica2020 is a group of influencers from the world of sport, politics, business, media and science that are working to ensure the full and effective protection of Antarctica’s Southern Ocean through a network of effective marine protected areas in the region. They are supported by Ocean Unite, The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition.

The #CallonCCAMLR campaign is a joint initiative of NGO partners including the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, Antarctica 2020, Ocean Unite, Only One, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and SeaLegacy. They have gathered the support of almost 1.5 million people worldwide for a petition calling world leaders to act now.

-The Petition calling for Antarctic Ocean protection is a collaboration of initiatives:

-        #CallonCCAMLR

-        Avaaz: Save Antarctica’s wilderness campaign               

-        WeMove- campaign to save wilderness habitats for penguins, whales and other precious species

-The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Resources (CCAMLR) was established under the Antarctic Treaty System to preserve the biodiversity of the Southern Ocean. CCAMLR is a consensus-based organization consisting of 26 Members, including the EU and eight of its member states. CCAMLR's mandate includes fisheries management based on the ecosystem approach, the protection of Antarctic nature and the creation of vast marine protected areas allowing the ocean to increase the resilience to climate change.

-   There are three proposals for the creation of new marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean.

 East Antarctica: 0.95 million km2;

o   Weddell Sea:  2.18 million km2;

o   Antarctic Peninsula: 0.65 million km2.

-        The 40th meeting of CCAMLR will take place until 29 October 2021.

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MEPC 77: IMO must rapidly cut emissions of black carbon from shipping

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As a meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 77) opened on 22 November in London, the Clean Arctic Alliance called on the IMO, its member states and international shipping to protect the Arctic by implementing a rapid decrease in emissions of black carbon from shipping in, or close to the Arctic, and to urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions and black carbon emissions from the global shipping industry. 
 
Black carbon is a short-lived climate forcer responsible for 20% of shipping climate impact (on a 20 year basis). When black carbon settles onto snow and ice, melting accelerates, and the loss of reflectivity creates a feedback loop exacerbating global heating. Black carbon emissions from shipping in the Arctic increased 85% between 2015 and 2019.
“This week, the IMO must tackle the impact of black carbon emissions on the Arctic, by urgently putting in place strong measures to drive rapid, deep cuts to black carbon emissions from shipping operating in or near the Arctic, and to urgently reduce CO2 and black carbon emissions from the maritime sector globally”, said Dr Sian Prior, Lead Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance. 
 
“The Clean Arctic Alliance supports the proposal for a resolution submitted to MEPC 77 by eleven IMO member states that calls on ships operating in and near the Arctic to move from heavier, more polluting fuel oils to lighter distillate fuels with low aromaticity or other cleaner alternative fuels or methods of propulsion”, she added [1]. “If all shipping currently using heavy fuel oils while in the Arctic were to switch to distillate fuel, there would be an immediate reduction of around 44% in black carbon emissions from these ships. If particulate filters were installed on board these vessels, black carbon emissions could be reduced by over 90%”.

Recent IPCC findings show that the levels of climate ambition and timelines currently on the table for shipping at the IMO are totally inadequate”, continued Prior [2]. “It is imperative that measures due for adoption at the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 77) be strengthened to ensure they drive fast deep cuts in both CO2 and black carbon emissions from ships, especially those visiting or operating near the Arctic.”

NGO Statement:
On 18 November, NGOs called on the IMO to halve shipping’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and for IMO member states to urgently align the agency’s work on reducing climate impacts from shipping with the COP26 developments during MEPC 77 [3]. 
 
The statement called on IMO member states to: Align shipping with the 1.5° degrees target: commit to reducing ship climate impacts on a timeframe consistent with keeping warming below 1.5°, including reaching zero by 2050 at the latest and halving emissions by 2030;  Bolster short-term measures: reopen discussions on the level of ambition in the IMO’s short-term measure with a view to agreeing new targets consistent with halving emissions by 2030; Tackle black carbon: take decisive action to address the impact on the Arctic of black carbon emissions, a short-lived climate forcer responsible for 20% of shipping climate impact; and Set a GHG levy: agree a minimum $100/tonne levy on GHG emissions to raise climate finance and support a just transition to zero across the sector as called for at COP26More details here.
 
The IMO must halve shipping emissions by 2030
[1] MEPC 77-9 - Comments on the outcome of PPR 8 
[2] IPCC Report on Climate Crisis: Clean Arctic Alliance Calls for Black Carbon Cuts from Shipping
[3] NGO Statement: IMO must tackle impact of black carbon emissions on Arctic

About the Arctic and black carbon
Major shifts in climate occur more strongly and proceed faster at high latitudes with the most dramatic changes seen in the sea-ice cover of the Arctic Ocean. The summer sea ice cover is much reduced compared to only a few decades ago, and the remaining ice is about half as thick. Multi-year ice has declined by around 90%. Days with no summer sea ice could come as soon as the early 2030s, if the world fails to fulfil the Paris Climate Agreement’s commitment to limit global heating to less than 1.5C, which could have unprecedented consequences for the global climate and marine environment. 

Arctic shipping is increasing as reduced sea ice opens up access to resources, and interest in shorter trans-Arctic shipping routes grows. Despite global efforts, ships’ black carbon emissions are rising - black carbon emissions from shipping in the Arctic increased 85% between 2015 and 2019. When black carbon settles onto snow and ice, melting accelerates, and the loss of reflectivity creates a feedback loop exacerbating global heating. Black Carbon also has health impacts for Arctic communities. Reductions in black carbon emissions from shipping in or near the Arctic can be introduced rapidly by switching to cleaner fuels and have an immediate impact in reducing melting of snow and ice since the black carbon is short-lived and remains in the atmosphere for only days or weeks. 
 
How black carbon emissions from shipping have an impact on the Arctic
Urgent and immediate action needed to cut black carbon emissions from ships
Video

About the Clean Arctic Alliance

Made up of 21 not-for-profit organizations, the Clean Arctic Alliance campaigns to persuade governments to take action to protect the Arctic, its wildlife and its people. 

Members include: 90 North Unit, The Altai Project, Alaska Wilderness League, Bellona, Clean Air Task Force, Green Transition Denmark, Ecology and Development Foundation ECODES, Environmental Investigation Agency, Friends of the Earth US, Global Choices, Greenpeace, Iceland Nature Conservation Association, International Cryosphere Climate Initiative, Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union, Ocean Conservancy, Pacific Environment, Seas At Risk, Surfrider Foundation Europe, Stand.Earth, Transport & Environment and WWF.

More more information click here.
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Scientists and experts commemorate 30th anniversary of Madrid Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty

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Today (4 October), ministers, leading scientists and experts from around the world are meeting at the Archeological Museum of Madrid to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Madrid Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty. In 1991, this Protocol, hailed as a significant achievement for environmental governance, declared the full protection of the entire Antarctic continent from exploitation. 

High-level Dialogues will discuss the different challenges that Antarctica is facing today. This will be followed by a Ministerial meeting, where hopefully commitments will be made by countries to new ground-breaking action on how to deal with these challenges in the coming 30 years.

[A petition signed by almost 1.5 million people worldwide calling on world leaders to significantly increase the protection of Antarctica’s waters will also be handed over to the Spanish President of the Government by NGO partners at the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC), Avaaz, Blue Nature Alliance, Ocean Unite, OnlyOne, SeaLegacy, The Pew Charitable Trusts and We Move Europe.]

This event is a unique opportunity to celebrate this Treaty as a strong symbol of multilateralism and good governance, and to show the world that this multilateral action is urgently needed again now that climate change is accelerating and is threatening this fragile wilderness” said Claire Christian, Executive Director of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition.

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Antarctica is undergoing huge changes due to the climate crisis- with melting ice and temperatures rising faster than anywhere else on Earth. While the continent has been protected from exploitation, the waters that surround it are still open to commercial fishing which has been expanding in recent decades, threatening large swathes of vulnerable ecosystems and important wildlife habitats. 

An international body that falls under the Antarctic Treaty called CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) regulates fisheries and is responsible for conserving Antarctica’s marine life. It is currently considering the designation of three new large-scale protected areas in the Weddell Sea, East Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula, which would help these areas adapt and build resilience to the unprecedented changes happening to marine ecosystems by the climate crisis.

This additional protection would safeguard almost an extra 4 million km2 of ocean from human activities, providing a safe haven for amazing wildlife, such as whales, seals and penguins in a further 1% of the global ocean. 

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All CCAMLR members, including European countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands Poland, Spain, and Sweden) and the European Union are in support of these new areas, with the exception of Russia and China. 

Leaders meeting here in Madrid, including Spain, must agree to use all their diplomatic weight to bring Russia and China on board with this historic biodiversity and climate action this year”. declared Pascal Lamy, President of the Paris Peace Forum,Co-head of the Antarctica2020 Champions Group.

We need to act now to protect Antarctica’s ocean. The region cannot afford yet another lost year of inaction” concluded Geneviève Pons,  Director General of “Europe Jacques Delors”, Co-head of the Antarctica2020 Champions Group.

To register at the event, please send your name and ID number at the following address: [email protected]

END

Notes for editors

Antarctica2020 is an initiative bringing together leaders and influential voices from the world of politics, science, sport and media that is advocating high-level support from world leaders for the protection of these areas. This initiative, together with NGO partners at the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC), Avaaz, Blue Nature Alliance, Ocean Unite, OnlyOne, SeaLegacy, The Pew Charitable Trusts and We Move Europe will deliver to the Spanish President of the Government the #CallonCCAMLR petition that has been signed by almost 1.5 million people worldwide calling for protection of Antarctica’s waters this year. 

The Antarctic Treaty was agreed in 1959 and came into force in 1961, it has 54 parties https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antarctic_Treaty_System.

Antarctica plays a critical role in regulating the global climate and through its extremely rich biodiversity and strong circumpolar current supplies nutrients to the rest of the global ocean. Covering 30% of the ocean’s surface, the Southern Ocean is a major buffer against climate change, absorbing as much as 75 % of the excess heat and 40 percent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that have been taken up by the global ocean.

This celebratory meeting will take place a few days ahead of the 40thannual meeting of CCAMLR and the COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity that are both starting on the 11th The meeting is expected to adopt the Madrid Declaration, which will be an expression of the shared commitment to protect the biodiversity of this unique area of our planet.

CCAMLR: The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Resources (CCAMLR) was established under the Antarctic Treaty System to preserve the biodiversity of the Southern Ocean. CCAMLR is a consensus-based organization consisting of 26 Members, including the EU and eight of its Member States. CCAMLR's mandate includes fisheries management based on the ecosystem approach, the protection of Antarctic nature and the creation of vast marine protected areas allowing the ocean to increase the resilience to climate change.

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EU ministerial to focus on Antarctica's protection

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Photo credit: Kelvin Trautman

Ministers from countries backing further Antarctic marine protection met on 29 September to discuss how to win support of Russia and China for increased action. European Commissioner, Virginijus Sinkevičius, is hosting ministers ahead of the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources (CCAMLR) that will decide on three large-scale protection proposals in the Southern Ocean. Two of these proposals- in the East Antarctic and Weddell Sea- have been put forward by the EU.

This meeting is a key opportunity for ministers to agree to a final high-level push in ensuring that these proposals will be agreed this year.  “Protecting these areas will build resilience in the Southern Ocean against the increasing impacts of the fast-changing climate, as well as removing other stressors such as industrial fishing, generating benefits for both fisheries and wildlife. They are a key response to the climate and biodiversity crises," said Claire Christianson from ASOC.

Russia and China are currently the only countries blocking the required consensus for designation of the proposed Antarctica marine protected areas within CCAMLR.

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“European leaders committed their diplomatic and economic clout to win Russia and China. There is still no sign that this support has been secured, but with concerted and coordinated action states could agree to the largest act of ocean in protection this year,” said Pascal Lamy, president of the Paris Peace Forum and Antarctica2020 champion.

The CCAMLR meeting will take place just days after China hosts a major UN biodiversity Conference (15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, 11-15 October) that will agree a 10-year plan to save nature. 

“Ministers must make clear to  China that blocking the protection of an ocean critical to planetary health and marine life is totally incompatible with their role as hosts of this very important meeting on biodiversity,” said Geneviève Pons, director general and vice president of Europe Jacques Delors and Antarctica2020 Champion.

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Recently leading scientists sent a letter to CCAMLR member states calling on them to designate marine protected areas in the Antarctic Ocean.

“Without immediate and significant emissions reductions as identified in the Paris Agreement targets, the earth will soon reach tipping points with disastrous consequences not only for Antarctica and its marine life, but also for the rest of humanity.  Action is also needed by other relevant bodies, including those that oversee the international governance of Antarctica’s Southern Ocean, which accounts for 10% of the world’s ocean,” Said Hans Pörtner, co-author of the scientist letter and IPCC scientist.

Antarctica2020is a group of influencers from the world of sport, politics, business, media and science that are working to ensure the full and effective protection of Antarctica’s Southern Ocean through a network of effective marine protected areas in the region. They are supported by Ocean Unite, The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition.

Link to Scientists letter to CCAMLR member states:

The #CallonCCAMLR campaign, is a joint initiative of NGO partners including the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, Antarctica 2020, Ocean Unite, Only One, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and SeaLegacy. They have gathered the support of almost 1.5 million people worldwide for a petition calling world leaders to act now.

CCAMLR: The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Resources (CCAMLR) was established under the Antarctic Treaty System to preserve the biodiversity of the Southern Ocean. CCAMLR is a consensus-based organization consisting of 26 Members, including the EU and eight of its Member States. CCAMLR's mandate includes fisheries management based on the ecosystem approach, the protection of Antarctic nature and the creation of vast marine protected areas allowing the ocean to increase the resilience to climate change.

In 2009, CCAMLR member countries began to undertake their responsibilities to establish a network of MPAs throughout the Southern Ocean and established the first high seas MPA on the southern shelf of the South Orkney Islands. In 2016 the world's largest MPA was agreed in the Ross Sea (proposed by the United States & New Zealand; 2.02 million km2).

There are three proposals for the creation of new MPAs in the Southern Ocean.

  • East Antarctica: from the EU / France, Australia, Norway, Uruguay, UK and the United States - 0.95 million km2;
  • Weddell Sea: from the EU / Germany, Norway, Australia, Uruguay, UK and the United States - 2.18 million km2;
  • Antarctic Peninsula: from Argentina and Chile- 0.65 million km2.

The protection of these three large areas would safeguard nearly 4 million km2 of Antarctica’s ocean. That is roughly the size of the EU and represents 1% of the global ocean. Together this would secure the largest act of ocean protection in history.

The 40th meeting of CCAMLR will take place from 18-29 October 2021.

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