Macron urges world leaders to better protect the oceans


LISBON, Portugal (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday urged other world leaders to better protect the planet’s oceans by adopting an international agreement modeled after the legally binding Paris climate accords.

Macron traveled to Portugal after attending a NATO summit in neighboring Spain to deliver a speech at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon.

Macron acknowledged the failure of world leaders to update an international treaty, known as the Convention on the Law of the Sea, on the high seas, to include a mechanism that addresses ocean conservation and the sustainability of sea ​​life.

“We have been discussing this text for seven years,” Macron said. “Now is the time to get there quickly.”

The oceans cover about 70% of the Earth’s surface and provide food and livelihoods for billions of people. Scientists estimate that 50% to 80% of all life on the planet resides below the surface of the oceans and that at least 50% of the oxygen on the planet comes from the oceans, the majority produced by plankton.

Despite a fourth round of negotiations three months ago, an agreement on the proposed treaty instrument is still not in sight. A fifth round is scheduled for August in New York.

“Together we must set ambitious targets for biodiversity and in particular for the oceans, as we did with the Paris (climate) Agreement,” Macron said, referring to the 2015 treaty which set temperature targets to curb global warming.

Participants at the five-day conference in Lisbon are expected to adopt a non-binding declaration that could help facilitate the protection and conservation of the oceans and their resources, according to the UN. The declaration was to be approved on Friday.

France and Costa Rica will co-chair an intergovernmental environmental group launched in 2019, the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, which now includes 102 countries, Macron said.

“Together we stand for the principle of a framework that will allow us to protect at least 30% of land and seas by 2030,” he said.


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