Solving the climate crisis by saving whales

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How much is a whale worth?

We believe that the life of every whale is, of course, priceless. However, purely in terms of value to the climate, economists have calculated that one whale represents the mindboggling equivalent of thousands of trees and millions of dollars.

Whales are our biggest heroes in the fight against climate change. As well as storing tons of carbon in their bodies, whales also provide the fertiliser for phytoplankton, which is able to absorb four times as much CO2 as the Amazon rainforest.

Restoring whale populations would transform the health of the ocean and our planet. Before they were hunted almost to extinction, there used to be 4 or 5 million great whales in the world. Today, there are thought to be only 1.5 million. One study estimates that rebuilding populations of large baleen whales around the world would lock away as much carbon as preserving 110,000 hectares (272,000 acres) of forest.

It’s difficult to imagine how much richer our oceans could (and should) be, if leaders and policymakers were willing to invest in protecting these amazing animals and supporting their full recovery.

Photo of humpback whales by Druid007, via Getty Images

Sadly, the marine environment is often overlooked and underfunded when it comes to addressing the climate crisis. A policy paper by Deloitte, MCS and WDC highlighted the fact that, despite the ocean absorbing 30% of our carbon emissions, it receives less than 1% of global climate finance.

As COP27 discussions begin in Sharm El Sheikh, these words from our CEO, Harry Eckman, become ever more resonant:

“With every passing year, the urgency has grown and our window of opportunity has shrunk. The time for discussion is over and our leaders now need to act, but more than that, they need to be willing to make sacrifices for the sake of our planet.”

Harry Eckman, CEO of the World Cetacean Alliance

COP27 is a fresh opportunity for world leaders to finally recognise the value of marine ecosystems as a key climate solution – but it won’t be long before these opportunities run out. The WCA calls on all nations at COP27 to take urgent and ambitious action, for the ocean and our future, before it’s too late.

Header photo of a sperm whale by Sergio Hanquet, via Getty Images.

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