The Middlebury Institute’s Center for the Blue Economy (CBE) and the Blue Frontier Campaign, an ocean conservation and policy group, have put forward an Ocean Climate Action Plan (aka “Blue New Deal”) as a way for the United States to respond to climate threats to the ocean.
CBE and the Blue Frontier recommend specific responses to the threats documented in a newly released report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that looks at climate impacts on the world ocean and the world’s ice. The report is a sobering warning that the world is facing dangerous changes from a warming, acidifying ocean that is seeing declining oxygen and fish catches and intensifying storms and coastal flooding.
“Critical masses of people around the world are waking up to the fact that we don’t have much time left to act,” says Middlebury Institute Professor Jason Scorse, director of the Center for the Blue Economy. “Our Ocean Climate Action Plan will be the Blue part of the Green New Deal, a comprehensive guide to using the oceans and coasts both to mitigate climate change and build socioeconomic resilience.” David Helvarg, executive director of Blue Frontier adds, “The plan offers a blueprint of practical solutions that can help mitigate and buffer the impacts of fossil fuel fired climate disruption and secure our communities and our economy. All that’s needed is the political will to enact them.”
The plan first appeared under Helvarg and Scorse’s byline in the March 13 edition of Mongabay.com a conservation science publication.
Since then, the plan has received growing coverage and support. The proposal recommends broad-based changes needed to address the IPCC reported threats to the U.S. coastal population (43% of total population) and blue economy (44% of GDP).
Among eight identified areas in need of change, they call for a complete reformation of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) administered by FEMA, major coastal infrastructure investment with a focus on protection and restoration of natural barriers and coastal habitats, new guidelines and systems for expanding offshore renewable energy production, new forms of assistance to greening ports and fishing communities and a revised National Disaster Response System including creation of a new combatant command within the Department of Defense.
The Ocean Climate Action Plan is being refined and developed through marine and maritime stakeholder engagement including an October 18, 2019 working summit in Monterey and follow up working sessions in Washington D.C. in the spring of 2020.
The goals are to provide a template for state and national legislation and policy, persuading the presidential candidates to endorse or respond to the plan, to educate citizens, influence future climate legislation, and/or create stand-alone legislation.
The Middlebury Institute’s Center for the Blue Economy is sponsoring eleven students from the International Environmental Policy program on summer internships with top marine organizations from the Bay Area to the Galapagos.
David Helvarg is an award-winning journalist who has spent decades writing about and advocating for the blue economy.
Eleven students will travel around the world advocating for sustainable management of ocean and coastal resources. They are the 2019 Center for the Blue Economy Summer Fellows.