France's Macron urges world leaders to better protect oceans

French President Emmanuel Macron is urging other world leaders to better protect the planet’s oceans by adopting an international agreement modeled on the legally binding Paris climate accords

French President Emmanuel Macron urged other world leaders Thursday to better protect the planet's oceans by adopting an international agreement modeled on the legally binding Paris climate accords.

Macron traveled to Portugal after attending a NATO summit in neighboring Spain to make a speech at the U.N. Ocean Conference in Lisbon.

Macron acknowledged the failure of world leaders to update an international treaty, known as the Convention on the Law of the Sea, High Seas, to include a mechanism that addresses ocean conservation and the sustainability of marine life.

“We’ve been discussing that text for seven years,” Macron said. “It’s now time to achieve it quickly.”

Oceans cover some 70% of the Earth’s surface and provide food and livelihoods for billions of people. Scientists estimate that 50% to 80% of all life on the planet resides under the surface of oceans and at least 50% of the oxygen on the planet comes from the oceans, the majority produced by plankton.

Despite a fourth round of negotiations three months ago, a deal on the proposed treaty instrument is still not within sight. A fifth round is scheduled for August in New York.

“Together, we must set ambitious goals for biodiversity and especially for oceans, like we did with the Paris (climate) Agreement," Macron said, referring to the 2015 treaty that set temperature targets for curbing global warming.

Participants at the five-day Lisbon conference are expected to adopt a non-binding declaration that could help facilitate the protection and conservation of oceans and their resources, according to the U.N.. The declaration was set to be endorsed Friday.

France and Costa Rica are co-chairing an intergovernmental environmental group launched in 2019, the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, which now includes 102 countries, Macron said.

“Together, we are defending the principle of a framework that will enable us to protect at least 30% of land and sea by 2030,” he said.

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