The Marine Conservation Society has released a new report in partnership with Rewilding Britain. Blue Carbon – Ocean-based solutions to fight the climate crisis outlines the importance of the UK’s seas in helping the UK to reach its goal of net zero by 2050.
In order to reach net zero, the quantity of carbon dioxide taken from the atmosphere and stored in natural solutions must increase. By protecting and rewilding ecosystems in our ocean, blue carbon stores will have increased capacity and ability to store carbon.
The significant role of the world’s forests in helping to reduce carbon emissions has been formally recognised through numerous initiatives and reforesting projects intended to keep carbon locked into the world’s forests on land. Unfortunately, equivalent solutions in the ocean are often overlooked. In order to reach its goal of net zero by 2050, the UK must look to blue carbon solutions in tandem with those on land.
What is blue carbon?
Marine ecosystems like seagrass meadows, saltmarshes and mangroves absorb or ‘draw down’ carbon from the water and atmosphere, just like plants and trees on land. The storage of carbon in marine habitats is called blue carbon. The storage of blue carbon can be in the plants themselves, like seaweed and seagrass; in the seafloor sediment where plants are rooted; or even in the animals which live in the water, including seabirds, fish and larger mammals. Blue carbon is simply carbon absorbed from the water and atmosphere stored in the world’s blue spaces.
Dr Chris Tuckett, Director of Programmes at the Marine Conservation Society: “Carbon contained in marine and coastal ecosystems must be considered in the same way as our woodlands and peatbogs…critical to the UK’s carbon strategy. Our report outlines how vital blue carbon solutions are to an effective strategy which reaches net zero by 2050. We’re calling on the UK Government and devolved administrations to act with urgency to invest in, co-develop and implement a four nation Blue Carbon Strategy”.