"We need to realize their importance, their role and work for their protection," Albert tells PEOPLE

By Peter Mikelbank
Updated December 04, 2015 10:30 AM
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Credit: Guillaume Horacajuelo/EPA/Landov

As an outspoken advocate of ocean protection, Monaco’s Prince Albert has helped focus considering attention on “going blue” at the ongoing COP21 climate change summit in Paris.

“If we go about business as usual, it’s going to cost us way more,” Albert tells PEOPLE exclusively, explaining that global warming and rising ocean levels are already having immense impact.

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Declaring himself “thrilled” that this is the first COP meeting in which oceans play a great part in the agenda – December 4 marks “Oceans Day” in conjunction with the summit – he says recognition for the issue is a major step forward.

“We need to realize their importance, their role and work for their protection. They are a vital element of nature,” he says, adding, “one of every two breaths we take is due to their action.

“Of course there are still nonbelievers and naysayers who are disinclined to believe the science, who believe that there are cycles of climate change and yes, of course, there are. But if you look at the records of the last 150 years, you see the increase in temperature, and at the same time, the increase in carbon dioxide emissions is two, three, even four times what was considered the norm in other epochs.”