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Plymouth Marine Laboratory at COP26

27 October 2021

PML’s research and researchers played key roles at COP26 in Glasgow.

Wave image with #PMLatCOP26

In November 2021, the 26th annual summit of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties – COP26 – was hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy.

As delegates convened in Glasgow over the course of two weeks, PML scientists participated in, organized and facilitated numerous ocean events, as they have done for over a decade, continuing to highlight the enormous role the ocean plays in sustaining life on Earth, regulating climate and the consequences of a high CO2 world for the ocean and society.

This was be the first COP since the 2015 Paris Agreement to offer a crucial opportunity for countries to update their national plans to reduce emissions and protect the planet.

PML was a UNFCCC Observer Organisation with activities in the accredited area (Blue Zone, where negotiations take place) as well as roles in the public (green) zone, around Glasgow and online.

This includes being a founding partner of the COP26 Virtual Ocean Pavilion, which was designed to raise the visibility of the ocean and showcase why the ocean matters in climate negotiations

An important focus for PML at COP26 was on explaining the impacts of climate change to inform policy decisions needed to adapt to and mitigate climate change. This includes developing technologies and novel applications in support of addressing the climate crises, including blue carbon, offshore renewable energy, carbon capture and storage, carbon dioxide removal, and related stressors such as the impact of plastics on climate change.

Our scientists also have key roles in writing UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports which inform COP negotiations, including the for the current sixth assessment which recently published a working group report.

We have developed and contributed to briefing papers in the run up to this COP and policy roundtables as well as further activities, examples include: ‘Why the ocean matters in climate negotiations’: which was referenced in the recent UN Global Compact Briefing - Blueprint for a Climate-Smart Ocean to Meet 1.5°C and the ‘Nature-based Solutions for people climate change and biodiversity’ paper.

For COP26 the ocean transcends across the Presidency goals, from finance to energy to nature, land, resilience, industry, transport, to cities and science and innovation. It is imperative that international decision-makers and key stakeholders understand the enormous role the ocean plays in sustaining life on Earth, and the consequences of a high CO2 world for the ocean and society. To find out more about the COP26 Presidency goals around mitigation, adaptation, finance and collaboration visit:

'Why the ocean matters' - PML short film


PML contributions


  • Virtual - PML UNFCCC COP26 Exhibition booth; open throughout COP26 and accessible for those registered for the Blue Zone. Visit the PML stand here until 12 December.
  • 7-8pm

    • Virtual - Rediscovering Nitrogen: Solutions and Synergies for Climate Change, Health, Biodiversity and Circular Economy; side event. Dr Yuri Artioli attending - find out more about the related South Asian Nitrogen Hub.






  • 10 am onwards        

    • In person - Polar Ocean Day - Polar Oceans: Acidification, Warming and Freshening; Cryosphere Pavilion, Blue Zone. Dr Helen Findlay of PML lead coordinating partner. Find out more at the Cryosphere Pavilion Facebook, Twitch, YouTube and the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative​ YouTube
      • 10:00 MASAO event (SCAR badges), Sian Henley
      • 11:30  Freshening and Warming/AMOC (SAMS event)
      • 13:00  “The Tale of Two Oceans: sharing the latest innovative approaches and evidence-based research from food webs to feedbacks to raise ambitions towards a sustainable future”. Dr Helen Findlay and Dr Angus Atkinson are speakers on this session. 
        View on demand:
        The Arctic Ocean and Southern Ocean are crucial components of the Earth’s systems and play key role in regulating climate. They are home to unique ecosystems that are under serious threat from climate change impacts such as warming, acidification and freshening. These Polar oceans are already experiencing large changes in their chemistry and through continued warming will see more non-polar species moving into them resulting in altered ecosystem function, and knock-on consequences for food webs, fisheries, and climate regulation. This session will highlight the latest scientific findings as well as the innovative tools and techniques towards improving and broadening access and understanding of these remote and challenging locations. It will provide insight into some of the lesser known but highly significant impacts of climate change in the Polar Oceans and subsequent wider environmental and societal impacts towards raising ambition for reducing emissions.
      • 14:30  “Polar Acidification Deep Dive” including Paleo, Libby Jewett
      • 16:00  Impacts on Polar/Near-polar Fisheries and Food Systems (FAO)
      • 18:00  Triple Threat to Polar Oceans (Summary event), PML Dr Helen Findlay
      • 19:30  Cryosphere Cèlidh: Sea Songs


  • 10.30-11.30AM         

    • In Person - Ocean Decade in the Asia Pacific,  panel on key ocean knowledge challenges in the region, with a focus on ocean acidification, Japan Pavilion, Blue Zone. The objective of this event is to showcase the diverse ways in which the Ocean Decade can affect climate action at the national and regional level in the Asia Pacific region, including in Pacific SIDS. Professor Steve Widdicombe will speak on the ocean knowledge challenge in the Asia Pacific region.               

  • 12-12:15pm and 3:45-4pm

    • Royal Society Green Zone exhibition stand - drop-in video call Q&A session – virtual session on in person exhibition - hosted via Zoom and streamed live to the exhibition floor; Green Zone. Gemma Kulk is one of the experts in the Q&A, following her contributions to the 'Our Breathing Earth' exhibit.

  • 2:15-3:30pm
    • In person - Seaweed as a Nature-Based Solution for Climate Change; SDG Pavilion Blue Zone. This session will discuss how seaweed, or marine macroalgae, can be a significant nature-based climate solution with large scaling potential that can directly sequester carbon and indirectly displace greenhouse gas emissions in numerous ways. Moreover, sustainable seaweed production and farming has clear economic and ecological co-benefits that make it a form of “charismatic carbon” and a holistic nature-based climate solution.  Discussions will centre on the UN Global Compact recently launched ‘Seaweed as a Nature-based Solution for Climate Change’ vision statement. This meeting will be livestreamed from COP 26 via zoom with Professor Steve Widdicombe a panellist.
      View on demand:



  • 12-1pm        

    • In person - Protecting the Planet's Oceans - EXTREME Hangout (located on The Ferry). Lauren Biermann will be speaking on plastics and climate. The event can be followed online through registering for free with the Extreme Hangout.





  • 8.00-9.00am 
    • “Climate change and Blue Carbon Implications” in the Shared Pavilion (Blue Zone), hosted by the Ocean Policy Research Institute of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and the Palau Delegation. PML’s Dr Ana Queiros a speaker.                                     

11/11/21 & 12/11/21


Friday 12 February 3pm GMT the high level ‘COP26 Virtual Ocean Pavilion Closing Event: Working Together For Our Incredible Blue Planet’ with speakers:

  • Dr. Hide Sakaguchi, President, Ocean Policy Research Institute of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation

  • Ambassador Peter Thomson, UN Secretary-General Special Envoy for the Ocean

  • Ms. Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity Secretariat

  • Ms. Sue Wells, International Coral Reef Society (ICRS) Conservation Committee

  • Prof. Hans-O Pörtner, Co-Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - Working Group II

  • Dr. Helen Findlay, North East Atlantic - Ocean Acidification Hub Coordinator, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK

  • Mr. Tiago Pitta e Cunha, CEO, Oceano Azul Foundation

  • Mr. Ariel Hernán Troisi, Chair, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.
    View on demand at:, accessible until 12 December via the programme tab and choosing November 12th.

Simply log in at and from the top menu click Programme and 12 November.    
Not able to join? You can view the sessions below on demand following Friday until December 12.