The White House Announces "America's First-Ever Ocean Climate Action Plan"
On June 8th, 2022, World Ocean Day, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the creation of a whole-of-government Ocean Climate Action Plan. The Center for the Blue Economy, Blue Frontier, and our coalition of Ocean Climate Action partners celebrate this announcement! Is it coincidence that they have titled it the Ocean Climate Action Plan? We think not!
- “The Biden-Harris Administration will develop and implement a first-ever, whole-of-government Ocean Climate Action Plan. The Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Council on Environmental Quality, Co-Chairs of the Ocean Policy Committee, announced that the Committee will work in coordination with the White House Climate Policy Office to develop a whole-of-government Ocean Climate Action Plan that will guide significant ocean-based climate mitigation and adaptation actions, including green shipping, ocean-based renewable energy, blue carbon, and other ocean-related solutions. The Committee will also develop a National Sustainable Ocean Plan that will help guide sustainable economic development of U.S. ocean and coastal waters.”
Reading this White House announcement, on World Ocean Day 2022, and considering the three years of effort made to raise awareness about the connection between the oceans, Great Lakes, our rivers and estuaries to climate change—the Ocean Climate Action Coalition should be very proud! We can and should take a moment to celebrate this victory!
The following day, the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis held a hearing entitled, “Turning the Tide for Ocean Climate Action: Unleashing the Climate Benefits of Our Blue Planet.”
As of June 2022, the language of our Ocean Climate Action Plan has gained traction at every level of government, and the Ocean Climate Action Coalition had a significant role in building that momentum.
Here is a brief timeline, to refresh our memories and call to mind how inspiring and effective this movement has been:
- March 2019—“Putting the Blue in the Green New Deal,” outlines the initial 8-point plan.
- October 2019--A meeting of California leaders was convened to refine and expand the initial ideas (60 participants)
- January 2020—the first consensus draft of the Ocean Climate Action Plan (OCAP) was released and national comment sought (200 collaborators)
- April 2020—an international webinar was held to further vet the ideas in the Ocean Climate Action Plan, and take public comment (800 participants)
- July 2020—the final draft of the Ocean Climate Action Plan was released (with input from 1000+ people)
- November 2020—OCAP goals & language adapted for HR 8632 The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act of 2020
- March 2021—In his first week in office, President Biden expands federal leasing to 30GW of offshore wind power by 2030—a specific Ocean Climate Action Plan recommendation.
- April 2021—Ocean Climate Action (Virtual) Lobby Day. : the Ocean Climate Action Coalition held meetings with 107 Members of the House of Representatives and 33 Senators (1000+ people mobilized)
- April 2021—The Biden-Harris Administration commits to promoting living shorelines and decarbonizing the maritime sector, key OCAP goals as part of the US Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
- November 2021—Key elements of the OCAP plan were passed as part of HR 3684 the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (a down payment on clean ports and clean energy)
- December 2021—the Biden-Harris Administration announces an executive order to preserve 30% of US federal waters as Marine Protected Areas by 2030, another key OCAP goal.
- June 2022--“America’s First-Ever Ocean Climate Action Plan,” was announced by the White House on June 8, 2022 (World Ocean Day)
- June 2022—The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis holds a hearing entitled, “Turning the Tide for Ocean Climate Action: Unleashing the Climate Benefits of Our Blue Planet,” on June 9, 2022.
- August 2022--The Senate and the House pass the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes $369 billion (over 10 years) in funding for climate adaptation, mitigation, and clean energy.
Looking back, it is remarkable how a small group of people grew into a national movement that is fulfilling it’s intended purpose: strong local and federal ocean-climate policy signed into law as soon as possible. The climate emergency is an ocean emergency. There is no time to waste.
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