Skip to content


COUNTDOWN TO COP28: PML scientists championing the Ocean in climate negotiations

28 November 2023

PML ocean and climate experts will be playing active parts in the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), in The United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 30th November – 12th December 2023.
Dubai | Nahel Abdul Hadi, Unsplash

Since COP21 in 2015, the COPs have revolved around how to implement the Paris Agreement, which has three main goals: keep global average temperature rise to ‘well below’ 2°C and pursue efforts to limit the rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels; adapt to climate change and build resilience; and align finance flows with ‘a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development’. COP28 UAE will again bring the world together at a critical time for transformative global climate action with the first Global Stocktake of the implementation of the Paris Agreement concluding at COP28, assessing the world’s collective progress towards achieving its climate goals.
PML experts have attended each COP since 2009 and over the years their work and that of the wider ocean community has seen Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognising the importance of protecting the ocean and its ecosystems in the Convention and Paris Agreement. This includes the establishment of a mandated Ocean & Climate Change Dialogue in which PML expert Dr Matt Frost was a Break Out group Rapporteur.
To increase the visibility of the ocean at the COPs and to make ocean events more accessible the team was a co-founder of the 1st Virtual Ocean Pavilion at COP26 and a founding partner of the 1st Ocean Pavilion at COP27. Ahead of COP28, Ocean Pavilion partners and stakeholders, including PML, have unveiled the ‘Dubai Ocean Declaration’, which calls on world leaders to recognise the importance of the ocean in climate and support efforts to expand and improve ocean observations worldwide, including coverage in under-observed regions. 
At COP28 PML experts will continue to play active roles highlighting the enormous role the ocean plays in sustaining life on Earth, the consequences of a high CO2 world for the ocean and society and options for action. PML’s COP28 delegation consists of:
  • Professor Steve Widdicombe: Director of Science, Plymouth Marine Laboratory; Co-chair, Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON) Executive Council and Co-lead of the UN Ocean Decade Ocean Acidification Research for Sustainability (OARS) programme.
“At every global climate meeting, the imperative to make meaningful change, and for governments to agree to take effective actions, grows. It is a cliché to say that time is running out but, quite frankly, any further delays in taking action will inevitably lead to yet more severe climate impacts, greater loss of biodiversity, habitats and ecosystems, with impacts on the health and livelihoods of millions of people. As a scientist at such events, it is my role to advise on which evidenced-based climate actions can be taken and the consequences of not taking, or delaying, such actions. As an Ocean specialist, my focus will be on the role our Ocean plays in the climate story, in terms of how climate change impacts upon important ocean processes, marine ecosystems and coastal communities, but also how our Ocean, if protected and managed sustainably, can play an important role in mitigating the worst effects of climate change”. 
  • Dr Matt Frost: Chair of the UK Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP, UKs primary marine climate advice body) and its Overseas Working Group, Chair of the UK National (Ocean) Decade Committee plus founder and lead of the World Association of Marine Stations (WAMS), a forum for marine stations from all regions of the world (over 800 marine stations). He is the Head of the International Office with Plymouth Marine Laboratory.
“The COP28 meeting in Dubai is vital in terms of ongoing efforts to promote mitigation efforts but also for continuing to promote the importance of the ocean in the climate discussions. I am excited about representing PML in both chairing official events and in contributing to ocean-focused discussions on issues ranging from adaptation, finance, policy, equitability and scientific tools and solutions”.
  • Professor Helen Findlay: Chair of North East Atlantic Ocean Acidification (NEA-OA) Hub, Executive Council Member for the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON) and Science expert member of the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI) High Urgency Group. Helen is a Senior Scientist Biological Oceanographer with Plymouth Marine Laboratory.
“COP28 is the next opportunity to raise ambition on state commitments to acting on climate change. There is a lot at stake, as the scientific evidence mounts to show that we must strive for the lower end of the Paris Agreement, of 1.5oC warming. I am pleased to be able to represent PML and ocean science more broadly at COP28, particularly speaking for the Polar Oceans where we have been working with the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative to bring the latest science to the fore in policy negotiations. I will be moderating sessions and joining discussions on many aspects from issues to solutions”.
  • Anthony Ndah: Coordinator of the African regional node of the UN Ocean Decade Early Career Ocean Professionals (ECOP) Programme. Anthony is an Ecosystem Scientist with Plymouth Marine Laboratory
"Climate change is one of the most defining challenges of our time. To fully understand what we are up against, and develop effective mitigation and adaptation strategies, all stakeholders must work together to overcome various barriers hindering progress. Young professionals including the Early Career Ocean Professionals (ECOPs) are increasingly at the forefront of this fight, and this will be clearly demonstrated at COP28 in Dubai. I am honoured to represent PML and ECOP at this year’s meeting to speak on issues related to ocean-climate science, ocean literacy, capacity development and international collaborations, especially pertaining to early career professionals and Africa."
  • The delegation is coordinated by Thecla Keizer, Deputy Head of PML’s International Office & International Marketing and Business Development Executive. 
“Such an honour to have been able to raise the visility of the ocean at COPs since 2009; with this COP28 considered the most important since the Paris Agreement. The ocean has greatly slowed the rate of climate change, but at a cost. Importantly, the ocean also offers a range of mitigation & adaptation opportunities for nations to combat climate change whilst still ensuring that the ocean can be developed sustainably for the numerous benefits it provides to all life on Earth.”

In preparation for this year’s conference, the team has led or been instrumental in organising an exciting programme of ocean-related events and exhibits.

Related information

28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28)
Share this story: