05 Jul 2022 2 min read

Oceans and the climate crisis

By Lewis Pugh

All life began in our oceans. They cover 70% of our Earth's surface, and are still home to 80% of life on our planet.


As an ocean swimmer, there is no place on Earth I would rather be. I never miss an opportunity to get into the water. And as UN Patron of the Oceans, I spend a lot of the time that I'm not in the water talking about it. I want as many people as possible to fall in love with our oceans and the wonderful creatures that live in them.

Because once they love them, they will want to protect them.

And they need protection, from the triple threats of overfishing, pollution, and global warming.

All of these are human-made threats, which means that our species is the only one that can, and should, address them.

That would be environmental justice.

Nurseries and graveyards

Many of my cold-water swims take place in deep waters of the open ocean. But lately I've been spending time closer to shore, swimming in the kelp forests and coral reefs which fringe our coastlines.

These fringe spaces are bustling with biodiversity. Kelp forests buffer coastlines from storm surges, and their shelter provides protective nurseries for young sea life. Communities of coral work together to create the ideal environment for the most colourful creatures on earth.

Tragically, many of our world's coral reefs are now becoming ocean graveyards, as rising water temperatures bleach out their colour, and their life.

Oceans at the crux

Oceans are at the crux of the climate crisis; they both counteract climate change, and are adversely affected by it.

The oceans absorb 25% of all CO2 emissions – but they do so at great cost to themselves. As oceans take in the extra heat we generate, the delicate balance – fine-tuned over millennia to support everything from tiny shrimps to majestic whales – is tilted out of whack.

We simply cannot rely on the ocean to bail us out of our climate crisis. Each and every one of us needs to do our part in taking responsibility for our actions.

I know these issues are close to LGIM’s heart, too. LGIM believes the health of our planet is indivisible from that of the world economy, politics and society. Under its Climate Impact Pledge, LGIM has committed to help companies limit carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

Everyday decisions

Every day we make decisions about how we live our lives: whether it’s the food we eat, how we get to school or work, the clothes we wear, or how we heat our homes. All these choices ultimately impact our oceans.

This is why it is so critical for the financial sector to invest in sustainable options that have the well-being of our planet in mind.

What choice can you make today to help our oceans?

Lewis Pugh

Endurance swimmer and the UN Patron of the Oceans

Lewis Pugh swims in the most vulnerable ecosystems on Earth to call for their protection. He was the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world. He was also the first to swim across the North Pole and the first to swim the full length of the English Channel. Lewis has been instrumental in protecting over two million km² of vulnerable ocean – an area larger than Western Europe. At LGIM, we are united with Lewis in our aim to tackle the climate crisis. We believe inaction is not an option and are proud to support Lewis’ efforts to raise awareness and push for positive change.

Lewis Pugh