The Fifth National Climate Assessment, mandated by Congress and recently published last week by federal scientists, highlights practical solutions to the climate crisis that are already available - including blue carbon.
The term refers to atmospheric carbon sequestered in marine and coastal environments, such as mangroves, tidal marshes, reefs, and seagrasses. It is analogous to ‘green’ carbon (soils and forests) with two big differences: it can trap carbon much faster and store it for longer.
The key is protecting marine systems from harm and restoring degraded ones, exemplified by the work of global initiatives like the Reef Resilience Network. For more than 16 years, the Reef Resilience Network has served as a global leader in building the capacity of marine managers to effectively manage, protect, and restore coral reefs and reef fisheries around the world. Important work like this also provides multiple co-benefits, such as ensuring food sources for local communities, building resilience against flooding, and protecting marine life.
Restoring and protecting blue carbon is a promising regenerative solution in an essential place: the oceans, which cover nearly three-quarters of the earth’s surface.
Another important initiative is a program known simply in the conservation world as “Blue Bonds.” Essentially, it finds nations which have a lot of debt, low tax revenue, and important territorial waters, and recruits financier partners to buy outstanding debt from the previous holders and re-negotiate terms with more favourable interest rates - provided the nation spends the savings on ocean conservation. Blue bonds have been successfully deployed in Barbados, the Seychelles and, most recently, the Galápagos Islands struck the world's biggest debt for nature deal.