Friday, October 16, 2009

Proposal: Carbon funding to protect oceans

Marine organisms take up between three and seven percent of the world’s carbon emissions. Thus, projects to protect this "blue carbon" capacity should rank on a par with forest conservation, UN body suggests.

Morten Andersen 16/10/2009 13:15

Projects that protect and enhance the ability of marine ecosystems to absorb carbon dioxide should be allowed to receive carbon credits just like projects to conserve rainforests. The proposal stems from a new report by the UN Environment Program (UNEP).

While rainforests are generally accepted as huge sinks for carbon, it is less known that projects to restore marine ecosystems may provide considerable climate protection – more than half that projected from reducing rainforest deforestation, the report points out.

"It’s a resource that can help us achieve the goals and targets governments are negotiating at the moment (…) it’s a relatively simple and cheap proposition to invest in managing these areas," Emily Corcoran, one of the report’s authors, tells Business Day.

According to the report, between two and seven percent of the oceans’ capacity for carbon storage is lost yearly, mainly due to pollution and clearance of mangroves to make way for ports and other types of coastal development.

"We already know that marine ecosystems are trillion-dollar assets linked to sectors such as tourism, coastal defence, fisheries and water purification services. Now it is emerging that they are natural allies against climate change," Achim Steiner, head of the UNEP, tells Reuters.