With COP28 climate negotiations starting this week, we asked leading figures in the Blue Earth community to share their hopes and expectations for COP28 outcomes.
Dan Crockett is Oceans and Climate Director for Blue Marine Foundation, an organisation dedicated to creating marine reserves, restoring vital habitats and establishing models of sustainable fishing. Dan shares what keeps him optimistic about the future of the climate movement.
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Are you attending COP28?
Yes I am.
The United Nations climate change process is deeply imperfect. It is also giant, with 70,000 people flying from all over the world to attend. The irony of that is not lost on us. Just ten years ago friends of mine were practically laughed off stage at COP for suggesting that the ocean could have value as a solution to climate change. Even five years ago the ocean was nowhere at the COP. Through a lot of hard work by a lot of people, it is now permanently part of the text, there is an interim dialogue each year to discuss progress and the ocean has a permanent home in the form of an Ocean Pavilion (of which Blue Marine Foundation is a Founding Partner). What does that all mean? It means that countries are recognising blue carbon ecosystems in their commitments to solving climate change. In reality this trickles down to the protection and restoration of tens of thousands of hectares of incredibly important habitats like mangroves, seagrass and saltmarsh. COP is a melting-point of the decision-makers on these topics and this is all incredibly urgent. Furthermore, in the margins of events like COP there are many critically-important conversations around 30 by 30, ending overfishing, subsidies, ocean acidification and other key challenges facing the ocean.
What are your hopes for COP28?
I’m attending about 50 events about the ocean and speaking at quite a few. All of this is about moving things forward for the ocean. COP is a mix of world-leading scientists, NGOs, funders and policymakers. The group connected to the ocean is fairly small, but significant and ambitious. We’ve got 85 months until the world is supposed to have effectively protected 30 per cent of the ocean. This is a key convening point. Missing a year because we hate the wider corruption of the world is letting perfect be the enemy of good, in my opinion.
What are the biggest challenges to these hopes being realised?
Pretty much just people. Governments, corporations, UN institutions are all just networks of people.
What’s your single message to the global business community during COP28 and beyond?
Your profit is based on the underlying systems that support life on this earth. Start taking that seriously and you might just contribute to saving the world. Your kids and grandkids will ask you what you did, when you knew.
What keeps you optimistic about the global climate movement?
I am focused on the role of the ocean in the global climate movement, which is a lifetime’s work. I’m only ten years into working full-time on this and I see the veterans in the movement and the weight of that responsibility. Staying optimistic and confident in the belief things can get better is vital for longevity in my opinion.