Joint Press Release – France welcomes the publication of the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere (25 September 2019)


France welcomes the publication of the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.

This new IPCC [1] report, which is the product of international collaboration with almost 180 scientists from more than 87 countries, in the North and the South, and is based on the latest knowledge, describes the observed and future interaction between global warming and changes in the oceans, poles and glaciers, as well as the risks these changes may have for human populations and ecosystems.
The IPCC’s conclusion is clear: Global warming is accelerating and climate change is having a major impact on the ocean and cryosphere [2], with, in particular, impacts on coral reefs, low-lying coasts and islands, mountain ecosystems, permafrost and glaciers.
Sea levels are rising at an increasingly fast pace and the increasing absorption of CO2 in the oceans has led to accelerating acidification. This acidification, combined with the warming and deoxidization of the oceans, is causing extensive damage to the oceanic system and marine biodiversity, with in particular a significant impact on fishing. The effects therefore extend their impact well beyond the environments that are directly affected and contribute to global warming to an alarming extent.
The increasingly pronounced melting of Arctic ice and snow diminishes natural capacities to reflect solar radiation (albedo), important regulators of temperatures.
The ocean and cryosphere are crucial elements of the global climate system and a detailed understanding of them is a fundamental requirement with respect to taking action to reduce our impact and adapt to the changes we are facing.
The degradation of ecosystems increases the risks to populations, leading to the degradation of fisheries, infrastructure damage, freshwater supply problems, with impacts on human health, food security, as well as the development of trade and tourism.
However, the report shows that we must urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the scale of such changes in the future and the number of extreme events. Many solutions can be implemented to improve resilience and preserve the vital functions of the ocean and cryosphere. The protection and restoration of ecosystems as well as the implementation of nature-based solutions must in particular serve as a basis for our action so that it is truly sustainable. Above all, it is clear that the action we can take, starting today, to reduce our emissions will decrease the intensity of the impacts described and the risks to communities.

The IPCC findings confirm the policy of the government, which is taking action to limit greenhouse gas emissions as well as prepare for the changes that have become inevitable. They also encourage it to continue the initiatives undertaken in close collaboration with stakeholders in coastal regions.

• The energy and climate bill confirms France’s ambition to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and introduces a five-year programming law which will set priorities for action and define the way forward.

• Through the second national adaptation plan for climate change, the government is implementing the actions necessary to protect the population and adapt all sectors of the economy to future climate conditions, while improving their resilience.
• The government is funding research initiatives to improve understanding of evolving risks, whether in coastal or mountain areas. Indeed, an improved understanding of the phenomena is necessary for accurate anticipation.
• With respect to coastal areas, the government has already been taking action for several years: by improving the understanding of coastal dynamics, by promoting the implementation of regional projects and the use of nature-based solutions.
• Since developing countries are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change, France has made climate action a priority with respect to its development assistance. The French Development Agency is therefore “100% aligned with the Paris agreement.” The projects that it implements must support resilient and low-carbon development strategies.

Following reports on the land sector and on a global temperature increase of 1.5° C, the IPCC is once again sounding the alarm, as the world meets at the UN to respond to the existential threat of global warming, and reminding us of the absolutely urgent need to take science-based action. This assessment of our global knowledge of the ocean and the cryosphere shows us that climate changes will affect natural systems and human societies. The effects it describes on populations, such as the deterioration of fisheries, available water and food security, must be fully taken into account. The conclusions of this report must illuminate our diplomatic efforts to achieve our global climate ambitions and our development policy, particularly ahead of the COP25 and 26 climate conferences in Chile this December and in Glasgow in 2020, and contribute to our preparations for the COP15 biodiversity conference in China in 2020,” said Jean-Yves Le Drian, minister for Europe and foreign affairs.

This IPCC Special Report and its overwhelming conclusions serve as a new rallying cry to mitigate climate change but also to prepare ourselves and adapt to it. Beyond issuing a diagnosis, scientists are once again showing that climate and biodiversity are not separate challenges but rather a single battle in the ecological transition, in which the fight against climate change and the fight to protect the living environment are interdependent. Gone is the time for simple warnings; this is the time for action. Solutions exist that are based on knowledge and on actions to restore biodiversity and adapt areas to risk – particularly nature-based solutions. It is this message of concrete action and commitment that France is putting forward, both for our country and on the international level,” said Elisabeth Borne, minister for the ecological and inclusive transition.

The diagnosis made by scientists on climate change is not only irrefutable, but their work describes its impacts with ever-greater precision. Following the report on land use, it is the near future of the ocean and the cryosphere and all activities related to them that are described here with the utmost scientific rigor. This knowledge is assembled, analyzed, summarized, discussed and shared in a perfectly transparent intergovernmental process. It is no longer possible to deny the science. More important, beyond this shared knowledge on climate warming and its consequences, the scientists show us with the same meticulousness that we can still avoid the worst. Working with the entire government, I will continue to back investment in the national and scientific community so that we can win the support of all and at all levels, from citizens to states, and adopt the collective approaches that are necessary”, said Frédérique Vidal, minister of higher education, research and innovation.

For more than 30 years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been analyzing the state of knowledge on climate change, its causes, and its impacts. It also identifies possibilities for limiting the extent of warming and the severity of its impacts, and adapting to expected changes.

IPCC reports offer a regular assessment of the most advanced knowledge. This scientific output is central to international climate negotiations. It is also essential to warning decision-makers and civil society.

In France, several hundred scientists are working on research teams dealing with these issues. Some of them are contributing to different stages of IPCC reports. France recently demonstrated its support by hosting the IPCC’s 47th plenary session in Paris in March 2018; it marked the organization’s 30th anniversary with the announcement that it would raise France’s financial contribution to the IPCC’s budget to one million euros per year.

For additional information, please contact:

  • Press Office of Jean-Yves Le Drian: +33 1 43 17 57 57
  • Press Office of Elisabeth Borne: +33 1 40 81 78 31
  • Press Office of Frédérique Vidal: +33 1 55 55 84 24

[1Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

[2Cryosphere: glaciers, ice caps, permafrost (glaciated areas), etc.