The IPCC report highlights the importance of accelerating offshore wind deployment as a key contributor to net zero.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sixth assessment report 'Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis,(1) published on Monday 9 August, makes for sober reading, and lends further weight to the urgent need to achieve net zero.
From a marine perspective, the report’s analysis highlights the importance of accelerating offshore wind deployment as a key contributor to net zero. Given projected sea level rise of up to 1m by 2100 (or possibly 2 or even 5m by 2150 as a worst case), it also emphasises the need for a clear focus on coastal adaptation .
But while offshore wind expansion and coastal adaptation are vital in tacking the causes and effects of climate change, it remains important that both are taken forward in a strategic way that delivers sustainable development.
This requires more effective strategic planning for future offshore wind, particularly if the aspirations to deliver 100 GW+ of installed capacity by 2050 are to be realised. Such strategic planning needs to take into account how negative impacts on the marine environment can be minimised, mitigated or offset (through compensatory measures and net gain) to enable and deliver sustainable development.
As noted by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) (2018)(2) there is also a pressing need to accelerate coastal adaptation both to protect lives and to reverse ongoing reductions in important coastal habitats such as saltmarsh and mudflat which have experienced major losses over time as a result of historic reclamation.
CCC has indicated that a fivefold increase in habitat creation was needed to reverse current losses. However, with historical losses of over 90% of saltmarsh and 50% of mudflat, there needs to be a much greater level of ambition if the important ecosystem functions and services provided by these habitats are to be meaningfully restored.
Prepared by Stephen Hull, Director
ABPmer routinely advises marine sectors on regulatory and policy matters and has a long history supporting government and its agencies in developing the evidence base against which policy decisions are made.
(1) ^ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2021. Sixth Assessment Report: AR6 Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis.
(2) ^ Committee on Climate Change, 2018. Managing the coast in a changing climate. the Committee on Climate Change.