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This island nation will likely be one of many first to promote ocean-based credit


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Seagrass beds and mangrove timber within the Bahamas’ crystal-clear waters might quickly be drafted into the struggle in opposition to local weather change. 

The Caribbean nation plans to supply “blue carbon” credit this yr as a approach for firms internationally to offset their emissions, the nation’s prime minister introduced final week. The island nation will likely be one of many first to promote ocean-based credit, and hopes to make use of the proceeds to put money into local weather resilience initiatives. 

Coastal ecosystems, comparable to seagrass meadows and mangrove forests, are a few of the world’s strongest carbon sinks, storing three to 5 occasions extra carbon per hectare than tropical forests. They accomplish that primarily by storing useless and decaying plant matter within the ocean ground, in addition to sequestering carbon by pulling it straight from the air and water. Final yr, a global crew of researchers discovered that these marine habitats already retailer as much as 30 billion tons of carbon — practically as a lot because the world emitted in 2021 from fossil gasoline burning alone

The Bahamas is dwelling to greater than 1,600 sq. miles of mangrove forests and different marine ecosystems that function priceless carbon sinks — not less than $300 million price, in response to Prime Minister Philip Davis. However they’re threatened by injury from hurricanes and coastal improvement, points that he stated the revenues from the carbon credit score gross sales would assist deal with. 

“I need to see a Caribbean that’s not dumped on any additional,” Davis stated on the Caribbean Renewable Power Convention in Miami, in response to Bloomberg. “We’re a significant carbon sink for the world, and we have to profit from cleansing the Earth’s environment.” 

It’d enable polluters to maintain polluting. It’s like: ‘Watch my stunning blue carbon undertaking over right here, whereas I’m not doing something about my emissions over there.’

Carbon offsets work in two methods: Corporations will pay to protect already-existing ecosystems, stopping new carbon from being launched into the environment. Or they’ll finance the rehabilitation of degraded or destroyed habitats, which then go on to soak up further carbon dioxide. Each strategies enable companies and people shopping for credit to proceed polluting, so long as their emissions are equal to the carbon being saved by the undertaking they assist — the idea for claims to “carbon neutrality.” In concept, these strategies may be an necessary software to fight local weather change, and conservationists are selling blue carbon initiatives as a strategy to protect threatened marine habitats

The Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change, the United Nations’ main local weather physique, has promoted blue carbon as a approach for nations to fulfill their obligations below the Paris Settlement, and international locations comparable to the US, Australia and Kenya have already begun together with marine habitats of their carbon accounting. Firms have additionally seen a possibility in blue carbon; Apple and Gucci have each invested in initiatives that protect mangrove forests in Central and South America. 

However related carbon offset packages concentrating on forests and grasslands have been plagued with accusations of fraud; builders have been caught inflating the quantity of carbon sequestered by forests or preserving land that was already protected. And a few ecosystems have been destroyed by wildfires even after they have been claimed for credit. 

They’ve additionally been criticized as a type of “greenwashing,” excusing firms and international locations from the work of truly transitioning to carbon-free power sources — a risk that some consultants concern may very well be repeated with “blue carbon” credit. 

These points, nevertheless, haven’t slowed the speedy growth of carbon markets, that are anticipated to be price as a lot as $546 billion by 2050, in response to BloombergNEF, a clear power analysis agency. 

“You shouldn’t let anyone persuade you or say that that is the silver bullet to resolve local weather change, as a result of it’s not. The chance is definitely fairly restricted,” Cath Lovelock, a coastal ecology researcher on the College of Queensland, Australia, informed China Dialogue Ocean. “And it would enable polluters to maintain polluting. It’s like: ‘Watch my stunning blue carbon undertaking over right here, whereas I’m not doing something about my emissions over there.’”

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