03. Blue Carbon: Carbon Sequestration in the Marine Environment
Coordinators: Steven Lutz, Blue Climate Solutions and Ken Buesseler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Dorothée Herr, Marine Program Officer, Inernational Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Linwood Pendelton, Director of Ocean and Coastal Policy, Nicholas Institute, Duke University
Fei Chai, Professor of Oceanography School of Marine Sciences and Climate Change Institute, University of Maine
Chris Vivian, Cefas, UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Blue carbon is a new concept in marine conservation that advances the roles that healthy coastal and marine ecosystems can play in storing and sequestering atmospheric carbon. Ultimately, the majority of CO2 added to the atmosphere by human activities will enter the ocean. Thus, understanding current ocean carbon sequestration capacity and how this might be altered due to climate change is key to predicting future climate trends and the health of ocean ecosystems. In addition, proposed geoengineering of the ocean to enhance its carbon sequestration capacity has been proposed, for example via ocean iron fertilization, yet the impacts on ocean ecosystems and efficacy for carbon sequestration need to be evaluated.
The Blue Carbon concept has been supported by many organizations including the United Nations Environment Programme and International Union for Conservation of Nature. A total of eleven US Senators have endorsed blue carbon through inclusion of appropriate language in the American Power Act and Clean Energy Partnerships Act of 2009. Blue carbon represents a significant opportunity for advancing the oceans’ role in countering climate change.
This session will explore the current state of the oceans in terms of its capacity to be a Blue Carbon sink, how this might be altered via climate change or geoengineering, how carbon markets might account for natural or geoengineered ocean carbon sinks and how society might choose to regulate the oceans for the benefit of marine ecosystems and carbon sequestration.
Identifying opportunities for collaboration in two areas:
Science funding - for the quantification of coastal carbon and oceanic carbon sequestration and research to resolve the impacts of geoengineering on ocean ecosystems and to quantify its potential to remove atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Policy leverage points - for influencing domestic legislation and current international climate negotiation texts.
DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS – Prepared by breakout groups and subject to review. These recommendations are the result of group processes and do not necessarily represent that positions of NCSE, which served as the enabler of the process that generated the recommendations.
Task 1. Recognize the importance of coastal and ocean carbon sequestration in climate change discussions (e.g. Governments, IPCC, COP)
Task 2. Regarding coastal and ocean carbon sequestration policy and research, we need to identify cabinet level leadership (e.g. establish an SOST working group, include in White House CEQ guidelines, and include in National Ocean Policy)
Task 3. To encourage coordinated US federal research and policy regarding coastal and ocean carbon sequestration, we need to identify who’s in charge at the agency level and their roles (e.g., DOE, DOI, NSF, NASA, NOAA, USGS, EPA etc.)
Task 4. Fund and develop comprehensive ocean carbon science programs that examine the fate of carbon from watersheds to the open ocean
Task 5. While we recognize the need for research on coastal and ocean carbon sequestration we should take immediate action to conserve ecosystems that are already known to sequester carbon