The EU has a historic opportunity to protect the Southern Ocean at the upcoming EU-China summit, write Geneviève Pons and Pascal Lamy.
Geneviève Pons is the director of the European Office of the Jacques Delors Institute. Pascal Lamy is the former director general of the World Trade Organization (2005-2013) and chairman of the executive committee of the Paris Peace Forum.
Antarctica is the coldest, windiest and most isolated place on Earth. Despite and maybe because of this, it plays a huge role in regulating the health of the planet and the climate. The Southern Ocean, which wraps around the Antarctic continent, is rich in biodiversity.
The powerful circumpolar current pumps nutrients throughout the ocean globally. It is an incredible body of water, which benefits us daily wherever we are on the planet. Protecting this environment is a defining opportunity of our time, an opportunity that the European Union can seize.
In just a couple of days, on April 9, is the annual EU-China Summit in Brussels. On the agenda will be a host of issues including climate change and protection of biodiversity. The EU signed an Ocean Partnership with China during last year’s Summit.
One of its objectives is the protection of the Southern Ocean. Unfortunately, that opportunity was missed several months later when the EU and China met again in Hobart, at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), the body responsible for conserving the Southern Ocean.
In fact, China did the opposite, and for the second year, it blocked the EU’s proposal for protection of almost 1 million km2 in the East Antarctic. China and Russia are the only CCAMLR members blocking protection.