Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Pope's Encyclical Opposes Fossil Fuels and Supports Renewables

The Encyclical of Pope Francis clearly states that fossil fuels are a leading cause of climate change causing emissions and as such we must reduce their use. He has called for stringent policies to restrict emissions and increased use of renewable energy.

"We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels — especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas — needs to be progressively replaced without delay. Until greater progress is made in developing widely accessible sources of renewable energy, it is legitimate to choose the lesser of two evils or to find short-term solutions. But the international community has still not reached adequate agreements about the responsibility for paying the costs of this energy transition."

Supreme Court Setback for EPA's Coal Plant Mercury and Toxics Rule

On Monday June 29th, the Supreme Court ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to clean-up pollution from US coal-fired power plants. The ruling appears to favor economic concerns over cleaner air and water. The EPA's 2011 Mercury and Air Toxics Standard rule was created to address some of the most toxic air pollution that emanates from coal-fired power plants.

The court was responding to a legal challenge from industry groups and 21 states which argued that the EPA’s regulations imposed unfair costs on utilities that burn coal to make electricity. The court appears to have been convinced by the argument that the EPA should have conducted a cost­ benefit analysis.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Pope Francis and COP21

While Pope Francis is not the first pope to address environmental concerns he is the first to embark on a global campaign with lofty ambitions that include influencing the outcome at COP21 later this year in Paris. Pope Benedict XVI and John Paul II, spoke about the environment and “creation”, but unlike his predecessors Pope Francis has made climate change the focus of his efforts. The recently released encyclical is highly critical of capitalism and advocates nothing short of a revolution.

It is no coincidence that the pope chose Francis of Assisi the patron saint of animals, as his namesake at the start of his papacy in 2011. The pope claimed that he shares values with the 12th century Franciscan monk.

Improving Health by Tackling Climate Change

A recent has identified several significant opportunities to improve human health by tackling climate change, most notably the phasing out of coal. This is the finding in the 2015 edition of The Lancet, Comission on Health and Climate. This report involved the work of more than 40 researchers and it was published in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Event - Energy Storage World Forum

The ninth annual Energy Storage World Forum will take place on September 14 - 17th in Sydney, Austria.

Some of the issues that will be addressed at the Forum include the following.

Examining The Business Case For Solar With Energy Storage

• How will solar benefit from energy storage?
• In which scenarios and applications?
• What is the estimated ROI?

Event - Sustainable Brands Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This event will take place on August 25-27, 2015 at the Windsor Barra Hotel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At this event participants can learn how to successfully innovate their brands for sustainability. This events takes place in Rio de Janeiro which continues to inspire brand, sustainability and design leaders to spark the innovation. This event will help attendees see the value that brands create and the impact they have on the world around them.
“The Sustainable Brands community is the main movement of business leaders concerned to transform their business using sustainability as a major driver of innovation.”
- Álvaro Almeida, founder-partner, Report Sustentabilidade.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sustainability in the Apparel Industry and Eco Fashion (Video)

Sustainable apparel and eco-friendly fashion is growing. This type of fashion has a much smaller environmental footprint this includes minimizing waste and eliminating the use of harmful chemicals. For years the clothing industry has been dominated by cheap imports from places like China and India, however, burgeoning consumer awareness about social and environmental issues are pushing brands in more responsible directions.

Nike has been pushed by consumers to become a more sustainable company and Patagonia has made a name for itself by being one of the most responsible and sustainable companies in the world. A host of other brands have also boarded the sustainability train. This includes accessible brands like H&M and North Face, to high end designer brands like Gucci, Calvin Klein and Stella McCartney.

Market Based Green Growth: Natural Capital and Sustainable Economic Growth (Videos)

Green growth that factors natural capital can drive competitiveness and power innovation for generations. Resource productivity alone is a $3 trillion opportunity. We must start with the understanding that the  choice between the economy and the environment is a false choice. As demonstrated by countries like Germany, we can increase our productivity while decreasing our emissions. To green our economies we must determine the true economic value of our resources which means we must ensure that markets factor the environmental costs of a product or service.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Pope Deprives Republican Climate Deniers of Religious Support

Climate denying Republicans can no longer take refuge in religion. Those who eschew the virtues of science have been morally defrocked by the Pope's recent rejection. In the process of calling for bold environmental action, the Pope has admonished conservative critics in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The Pope squarely addressed Republican climate deniers when he said, "It must be said that some committed and prayerful Christians, with the excuse of realism and pragmatism, tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment.”

Danish Legal Victory Shows How the Courts Can Combat Climate Change

Precedent setting Danish legal decision forces the government to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.Government legislatures and corporate boardrooms may be the most logical places to lower GHG emissions. However, in some places lawmakers and board members are either corrupt (eg beholden to the oil industry) or ill informed (ie unaware of the science of climate change) and consequently they are not acting responsibly. In these cases legal challenges may open up additional fronts that effectively combat climate change. The courts have a legal duty to protect people from climate change if their elected officials and corporate entities fail to do so.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sustainability, CSR, ESG & SRI = $

Responsible business practices pay dividends.  The value of this apprach has been demonstrated in the areas of socially responsible investment (SRI) corporate social responsibility (CSR), environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and sustainability. In fact thee are now years of research that show a strong correlation between respnsible business practices and Performance.

According to a 2015 Deutsche Bank study high CSR and ESG scores are correlated with higher performance. A summary report from DB Climate Change advisers titled Sustainable Investing: Establishing Long-Term Value and Performance, found that sustainable firms have a lower cost of capital and provide lower levels of risks to investors.

Pope Francis' Moral Call to Environmental Action

The new encyclical written by pope Francis may draw heavily upon science, but it is ultimately a moral call to environmental and social action. Moral and faith based advocacy of climate action is of immense benefit in reaching those who are not familiar with the merits of science. We have needed a new narrative for some time and now we are seeing the beginning of a positive narrative take shape.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Pope's Encyclical is an Indictment of Capitalism

The recent encyclical of Pope Francis is as much about capitalism as it is about the environment. The pope clearly point to the interrelationship between unbridled capitalism and environmental degradation. His encyclical states that our economic system has importance implications for our efforts to combat climate change. We must reexamine the tenants of capitalism that give us license to abuse nature.

Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, who coordinates the Vatican’s inner council of cardinals said, “the ideology surrounding environmental issues is too tied to a capitalism that doesn’t want to stop ruining the environment because they don’t want to give up their profits."

The Greening of Quebec

June 24th is a good time to explore the greening of the Canadian province of Quebec. Each year Saint Jean Baptiste Day, also known as the "Fête nationale du Québec" and "Quebec's National Holiday" is held on this day. Traditionally the day marks the feast day of St John the Baptist, however, it has become a secular day of celebration in French Canada and Quebec in particular. A number of festivities will occur across the province on this day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Science Adds Weight to the Pope's Environmental Encyclical

The position of Pope Francis on the environment is premised on good science. In essence he agrees with the salient findings of the IPCC. While the Pope may not be a working scientist, he does have a "titulo" degree (between a bachelors and a masters) in chemistry and he even worked for a time as a chemist. Perhaps most importantly he regularly consults with leading scientists.

It is important to understand the amount of scientific research that went into the Pope's encyclical. For many months those who were assisting the pope and the pope himself consulted with scientific experts in their respective fields.

New Charges Against MMA Employees in Lac Mégantic Train Wreck

Several people have been indicted 2 years after the tragic oil train derailment that killed 47 people and decimated the town of Lac Mégantic Quebec. This includes President and CEO of the now defunct Montreal, Maine and Atlantic (MMA) rail company Robert Gindrod, managers and the train's engineer. These people face the possibility of jail terms or fines for violations of the Rail Safety Act and the Fisheries Act.

Climate Change has Potentially Catastrophic Health Impacts

A new study reiterates the fact that the health impacts of climate change are being felt today and it warns that they could soon become potentially "catastrophic" in the near future. Climate change makes us sick both physically and mentally.

Over the last half century we have seen dramatic improvements in public health, however these gains will be undone if we do not curtail climate change. A major study finds that climate change is a bigger health threat than is currently understood. The study also suggests that addressing climate change affords an unprecedented opportunity to improve it.

Monday, June 22, 2015

May was the Wettest Month on Record in the US

The month of May 2015 was the wettest month on record. We all know that heat is the most common corollary of climate change, however so is drought on the one hand and extreme precipitation on the other. While California has been plagued with drought, most of the southern 48 states have been inundated by record precipitation. Climate research suggests that drought and extreme precipitation becomes more likely in a world plagued by climate change.

The Encyclical of Pope Francis Calls for Revolution

The zeal surrounding the recently released encyclical of Pope Francis is as revolutionary in modern times as the message which it conveys. In his unprecedented encyclical called "Laudato Sii", or “"Praised Be", the pope has called for a " bold cultural revolution" to tackle environmental and social problems. Pope Francis has made waves around the world with his historic call for climate action. The Pontiff addressed the need for a revolutionary change in the hearts and minds of people in terms of the way we treat the Earth and each other.

Countdown to COP21 - Emissions Reductions and Economic Growth: The IEA's Energy and Climate Change Report 2015

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is a champion of sustainable energy production and on June 15th they launched a special report on climate change. The World Energy Outlook Special Report 2015 is a 200 page document that was published just six months ahead of the COP21 Paris Climate Summit scheduled for December. It is hoped that all the nations will come together at the end of the year to endorse a global climate agreement. Such an agreement will reign-in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and put the world on a sustainable path.

Among other things the IEA report report offers an energy analysis that explores the relationship between greenhouse gas emissions and economic growth. It finds that for the first time we are seeing declining emissions alongside growth in many parts of the world. It further posits five pragmatic energy measures that advance climate goals without thwarting economic growth. It also indicates that we must see GHGs peak in the near term.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Event - Water and Society Conference 2015

The 3rd International Conference on Water and Society will take place on the 15th to the 17th of July, 2015 in A Coruña, Spain. The first of which was held in Las Vegas in 2011, followed by the meeting in 2013 in the New Forest, UK, home to the Wessex Institute. Conference Proceedings Papers presented at Water and Society 2015 will disseminated worldwide. Delegates will recieve the conference book (hard cover or digital format) which will be catalogued and archived in the British Library, the American Library of Congress and the WIT eLibrary.

Event - Next steps for climate Change Policy: Delivering the National Adaptation Programme

This CDP certified event will take place Thursday July 9th, 2015, at the Congress Centre, 28, Great Russell Street, London, UK. With the new Conservative government committed to tackling climate change, this seminar will be a timely opportunity to discuss practical steps for the future of policy in this area - including sector-specific adaptation plans.

Event: Canadian Water Summit: The Energy of Water

The 6th Annual Canadian Water Summit will take place on June 24 and 25, 2015 at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver, British Columbia. The water professionals in attendance will be engaged and inspired by the full day program to collaborate and take advantage of the energy of water - in Canada and around the world. Since 2009, the Canadian Water Summit has served as a collaborative forum for leaders from diverse sectors to share insights and further a united mission: to build a sustainable water future for Canada.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Implications of Pope Francis' Environmental Encyclical and Republican Attacks (Videos)

This first video covers a recent Yale summit which explains why the Pope's environmental encyclical matters and how it may transform the global debate. This video also provides context for the Pope's efforts from the perspectives of a multidisciplinary panel of expert. The video which follows reviews some of the conservative push-back including GOP presidential hopefuls and right wing media pundits. 

Bernie Sanders' Climate Leadership (Videos)

US Senator Bernard (Bernie) Sanders (I–VT) is a presidential hopeful and a longtime champion of climate action. In 2010 Sanders was among a dozen senators who sent a letter to then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid enumerating four principles for energy and climate legislation. In 2013 Sanders was among those who sought ambitious climate legislation including a price on carbon. In 2014 he was one of a number of Senators who held an all night vigil urging action on climate change.

Friday, June 19, 2015

EPA Proposes New Fuel Efficiency Rules for Heavy Trucks

On Friday June 19th the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released proposed new fuel efficiency rules for heavy trucks. These rules are expected to reduce American carbon emissions by 1.1 billion tons.

Transportation related greenhouse gas emissions are the second largest source of emissions. The EPA has already put forth new regulations for the power sector which is the largest source of emissions in the country. The new power plant rules are expected to be finalized in August.

TD Takes Environmental Responsiblity Seriously

TD is working to integrate environmental responsibility into every aspect of their business. In 2010 TD was the first bank to go entirely carbon-neutral. In 2011, four yeas ahead of schedule they reached their goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one metric ton per employee by 2015, relative to 2008 levels. This represents a 28 percent reduction in carbon per person.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pope's Environmental Encyclical Supports the Poor While Demanding Change from the Rich

As promised Pope Francis has released his long awaited encyclical which is called, "Laudato Si (Be Praised), On the Care of Our Common Home." The document is all people to support the poor. It is also an indictment of the rich who refuse to change their ways. The pope characterizes wealthy people as being the primary contributors to climate change and he calls for an end to consumers and greed to help avert an ecological disaster.

An encyclical is the highest level of teaching that a pope can issue. Francis has made it clear that he hopes his encyclical will influence those who are gathering for climate talks at the end of the year in Paris. It is hoped that the pope's message will make it more difficult for special interest groups to derail the work that needs to be done at COP21 where it is hoped we will secure a global climate agreement.

Germany is Both an Environmental and an Economic Leader

Germany not only leads by its green example it works to encourage other nations to follow. With its emphasis on renewable energy and emissions reductions Germany has proven itself to be the world's leading champion of the green economy. Germany is the first major renewable energy economy in the world and the strongest promoter of zero emissions. What makes their efforts so remarkable is that their green leadership has reinforced their position as an economic Juggernaut.

It is no coincidence that Germany also has one of the greenest leaders in the world. Under Chancellor Angela Merkel Germany has become the world's leading green advocate. Her crowning achievement to date has been pushing the G7 to abandon fossil fuels. This was no easy feat particularly with climate laggards like Canada who would rather cash out petro-dollars than enjoin the struggle against climate change.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Investing in Renewable Energy

Renewable energy investments are attracting a lot of attention. Historically this has focused on hydro and off shore wind, however, solar PV is an increasingly important part of the mix as Individual, institutional and corporate investors look to diversify their renewable energy portfolios.

Solar is particularly interesting when compared against volatility in the wind sector. According to Allianz wind can fluctuate by as much as 25 percent on a year on year basis while solar PV has an annual deviation of between 3 and 5 percent.

An Electric Truck Case Study: Smith Electric Goes Chinese to Stay Alive

While there are a multitude of reasons why greener commercial transportation makes sense, the case of Smith Electric Vehicles proves that there must be adequate cash flow to keep a company alive until the business environment matures and demand grows. Government policy and investment has been instrumental to the success of electric vehicle producers, however, as illustrated by the case of Kansas City based Smith Electric, help sometimes comes from unexpected sources.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New Environmental Justice Tool Launched by the EPA

A new web-based mapping and screening tool from the EPA provides environmental and health information throughout the US. The tool is called EJSCREEN provides high-resolution maps showing nationally-based demographic and environmental information. Users choose a geographic area; the tool then combines demographic and environmental information for that area into indexes.

Leaked Papal Encyclical Lauds the Climate Movement and Derides Deniers

Here is a leaked preview of Pope Francis' much awaited encyclical which is due to be officially released at noon on Thursday June 18. As expected the Pope has come out as one of the world's foremost environmental leaders. He praises the environmental movement, warns of the need for change and calls out climate deniers. The Pope wades into some of the finer points of the climate discussion even taking a stand on carbon trading.

As reported by The Guardian, the leaked version of the encyclical calls us to avoid "unprecedented destruction of our ecosystem. The 192 page document warns of "grave consequences for all of us," if we fail to make adjustments in the way we live our lives and change the way we consume energy.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Climate Risks are a Systemic Strategic Concern for Investors

Climate change has emerged as a vital part of investor risk assessment and these analyses are being applied across portfolios. Investors now have access to a growing pool of data thanks to the efforts of organizations like Ceres, the Carbon Tracker Initiative, Risky Business and the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB).

Trust Building at the Bonn Climate Talks

The 2015 Bonn climate talks wrapped on Thursday June 11 and while some decried the absence of tangible results others optimistically pointed to an increased atmosphere of trust.

Negotiators worked on a draft of the global climate agreement that is expected to be finalized at COP21 in Paris at the end of the year. Our fate and the fate of future generations will be decided by this document.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Seminar - Carbon Capture and Storage in the UK

The seminar, Carbon Capture and Storage in the UK is subtitled "policy priorities, collaboration and long-term confidence." It will take place on Tuesday July 7th, 2015 at the Royal Aeronautical Society, No. 4 Hamilton Place, London, UK. This CDP certified event features Peter Emery, Director, Capture Power and Production Director, Drax Group; Bill Spence, Business Opportunity Manager, Peterhead Project, Shell and Amy Clemitshaw, Deputy Director, Fossil Fuel Generation and Carbon Capture and Storage Policy, Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Event - Central American Renewables Investment Summit (CAMRIS)

This event will take place on July 13, 2015 - July 14, 2015 from 8:25 AM - 6:00 PM at the Hotel Riu Plaza Panamá Calle 50, Panama City, Panama.

Event - Geo Conference on Ecology, Economics, Education and Legislation: SGEM 2015

The 15th SGEM will take place on Tuesday June 16 to Thursday Jun 25, 2015, in Bulgaria. This event will bring together scientists, educators, and practitioners representing research and educational institutions, companies, governmental agencies and consulting organizations from all over the world to exchange ideas, to define the research priorities in the above fields and to propose potential solutions to problems related to the global changes.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Sustainability Reporting Attracts Investors and Improves ROI (Video)

Here is a panel discussion designed to improve returns and attract investors. This discussion offers practical insights and helps commercial property owners with reputation management, employee engagement and efficiency. It also increases access to capital. This discussion is ideal for all who own or intend to buy or sell real estate. It is also for property managers, developers, and sustainability professionals.

Moderator: Heather Gadonniex, Director of Sustainable Building and Construction, PE International

Panelists

Helen Gurfel, Executive Director, ULI Greenprint
Gary Holtzer, Senior Managing Director, Hines
Kristen Sullivan, Partner, Deloitte
Dan Winters, Director for North America, Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark



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Factors Driving the Growth of Responsible Investing
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Spoof of Pope Francis' Environmental Encyclical (Video)

This video trailer was posted by Observatório do Clima, a Brazil-based nonprofit on June 11 just ahead of long awaited papal encyclical on the environment from Pope Francis which is due to be released on June 18. In this amusing video Francis readies himself for war against the fossil fuel industry and those who say, "coal oil gas these are God given gifts and they are ours for the taking." This video titled "Pope Francis:The Encyclical," is a humorous take on the very real efforts being made by the most environmental Pope in Vatican history.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Drivers of Green Investment Growth

Investors have a critical role to play in advancing the green economy and combating climate change. Responding to the challenge of the social and environmental challenges we face affords investment opportunities in many different forms and across all asset classes.

A socially responsible investment (SRI) also known as sustainable, green or ethical investing, is premised on an investment strategy that seeks both financial gain and social good. Such investors scrutinize prospective investments focusing on social and environmental impacts. SRI commonly focuses on environmental sustainability, including clean technology. They avoid harmful products like fossil fuels, alcohol, gambling and tobacco. Impact investing is a subset of SRI and it measures both financial and social merits.

Why Investors Want More Nonfinancial Information

For both business and legal reasons investors are demanding more environmental, social, and governance (ESG) information. The sustainability information that they seek includes data about climate change, water issues, ethical business practices, CSR performance, and supply chain management.

The level of interest in nonfinancial information is growing dramatically. This is due to its ability to offset risk (brand risk, reputation risk, supply/commodity risk, regulatory risk, etc.), deliver efficiency gains; and/or add revenue/market share (via innovation and/or brand building/reputational equity).

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Adding Value through Sustainability

Sustainability adds value while simultaneously improving the environment and society’s well-being. It is now imperative that business leaders work towards value creation through sustainability. Investing in sustainability serves the dual purposes of strong financial performance and societal betterment. Meeting or exceeding stakeholder expectations as well as staying ahead of new regulatory regimes makes good business sense.

Innovative Solar Energy Financing Instruments

Investments in solar energy are booming alongside some innovative financing instruments. As explained by President Obama a bit more than a year ago every four minutes, an American home or business goes solar. There are a host of new financial instruments that serve the green economy and starting in 2013 we began to see some innovative approaches to finance in the solar sector.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

New Sustainability Focused Financial Instruments

Investors have a wide assortment of new financially responsible instruments. Sustainability investment options run the gamut from simple things like energy conservation projects to complex multi-stakeholder initiatives that target social and environmental improvements. Responsible investing, impact investing, socially responsible investing covers the full range of asset classes in many sectors. This includes instruments that combat climate change, encourage conservation and support social causes. Some examples include green bonds, climate bonds, yield cos, conservation investment and natural resources

The Montreal Pledge: Institutional Investors Working Towards Decarbonization through Disclosure

The Montreal Pledge was launched in 2014 and it requires signatories to measure and disclose the carbon footprint of their investment portfolio on an annual basis. The ambitious goal of the initiative is to get investors worth a total of $3 trillion to make the pledge before the COP21 climate talks scheduled for Paris at the end of this year.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Harper's Decarbonization Pledge is Unachievable

Despite ongoing resistance, Canada has been pulled into the orbit of decarbonization and has made some startling announcements. This move is an about face for a country that appeared to be firmly ensconced in its role as a climate Luddite. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper Canada has been one of the biggest obstacles to global climate action. The country has thwarting progress at successive international climate summits while steadily increasing their greenhouse gas emissions. In a stunning turn of events Harper, one of the most oil obsessed leaders in the world, has agreed to eradicate fossil fuels and substantially cut emissions.

G7 Makes Historic Climate Pledges Including the Phase Out of Fossil Fuels

With three bold commitments the G7 just got serious about combating climate change. In a move that can only be described as historic, some of the wealthiest nations in the world have agreed to phase out fossil fuels. They have also agreed to keep temperatures from rising no more than 2 degrees and provide $100 billion in annual climate finance.

Much of the credit goes to the German leader, Angela Merkel who has previously been referred to as the green chancellor, and is now being heralded as a climate hero. In an announcement at Schloss Elmau as G7 talks wrapped up, she said the G7 has pledged to, “decarbonise the global economy in the course of this century”.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Collapsing Fisheries and the Importance of Fishing

We are on the brink of a major collapse of marine ecosystems. The fishing industry is being destroyed by a combination of ocean acidification, over-exploitation, illegal, unregulated and destructive fishing practices. The Pacific bluefin tuna is but one species of fish that is being decimated by overfishing and illegal fishing. Between 1950 and the end of the millennium the total catch of ocean fish increased by 400 percent and demand for seafood continues to rise.

The Cost of Ocean Acidification

Ocean acidification already costs us a trillion dollars each year and it is getting progressively worse. The same high levels of atmospheric carbon that are driving climate change is also behind ocean acidification. Oceans soak up around half of the carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by human activity. This is warming the water and causing them to become more acidic. Ocean acidification has a cascade of impacts on a number of ocean creatures including mollusks.

Assessing the Value of our Oceans on World Oceans Day

June 8 is World Oceans Day, an opportunity to celebrate, reflect and act to preserve marine ecosystems. The theme of this year's World Oceans Day is, "Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet." The world's oceans are indispensable to life on our planet and their value to the global economy exceeds $24 trillion.

Life originated in our oceans billions of years ago and they cover 70 percent of our planet. Today they are repositories for a massive array of animal and plant species, and they are crucial sources of food, medicine and energy. At an even more fundamental level they regulate the climate and produce oxygen.