Ocean-based climate mitigation measures have the potential to deliver up to one-fifth of the total annual greenhouse gas emission cuts required to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. Those measures include expanding ocean-based renewable energy sources, decarbonizing the shipping industry, restoring and protecting “blue carbon” ecosystems like seagrasses and mangroves, and shifting human diets toward low-carbon protein sources from the ocean.

Even if global policymakers commit to moving in the right direction, meeting this goal will take action from all of us and must include major philanthropic investments in ocean conservation.

A recent report from Our Shared Seas found philanthropic funding for marine conservation doubled over the past decade, from USD 520 million in 2010 to USD 1.2 billion in 2020. That’s encouraging news. But even with that growth, support for ocean-based initiatives represents a tiny fraction of all philanthropic spending. In 2019, just three percent of all charitable giving in the United States went to environmental and animal causes, the report found, and only a miniscule amount targeted marine conservation.

Many philanthropic and business leaders are recognizing the power that technology, science, and business thinking can have in developing sustainable ocean management solutions. For example, with Schmidt Marine Technology Partners, Eric and Wendy Schmidt created a venture philanthropy model to fund early-stage development of ocean technologies aimed at solving ocean challenges, such as unsustainable fishing and ocean acidification. To support ocean-based climate solutions, Oceankind funds innovative technologies that reduce greenhouse gases associated with marine sectors, including the shipping and energy industries, as well as community-led work to strengthen ocean ecosystem resilience.

More donors must pick up the mantle and join in. Decarbonizing the shipping sector, expanding offshore wind energy, limiting further offshore oil and gas extraction, and other ocean-climate innovations offer tremendous opportunities for philanthropists. Yet these initiatives are all significantly underfunded. Improvements in each of these areas will profoundly affect our nation’s ability to transition to a clean-energy economy—a vital component for curtailing the most destructive elements of climate change.

Read the full article about ocean conservation by Julie Packard at Our Shared Seas.