Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Nine U.S. Senators Endorse 'Blue Carbon'




Nine U.S. Senators Endorse Marine Conservation Solutions to Climate Change

MIAMI, FL. / March 2, 2010 / An international coalition today, thanked the nine U.S. Senators who sponsored the Clean Energy Partnerships Act, for advancing marine conservation as part of the solution to climate change.

The Act is focused on mitigating climate change and making the transition to a clean energy economy, through offsetting greenhouse gas emissions.

The legislation advances marine conservation by including the restoration and conservation of certain coastal and marine ecosystems, which capture and store atmospheric carbon, in the list of eligible mitigation projects. Other mitigation projects include sustainable agriculture and forestry practices.

Recent reports produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that, when healthy, mangrove forests, saltwater marshlands and seagrass meadows are extremely effective at storing atmospheric carbon, thereby mitigating climate change. The reports are titled ‘Blue Carbon’ and ‘The Management of Natural Coastal Carbon Sinks,’ respectfully.

"Restoring seagrass, mangroves and salt-marshes is a win-win strategy, because they contribute to mitigate climate change through their carbon sink potential, that rivals with the Amazonian forest in intensity, but at the same time help recover fisheries and protect shorelines" said Prof Carlos M. Duarte, co-author of the UNEP report and Director of the International Laboratory for Global Change at the Spanish Council for Scientific Research.

"For too long we have focused solely on terrestrial habitats such as forests, peatlands and certain soil types as effective ways to manage natural carbon sinks. I am delighted that this important introduction in the U.S. Senate provides long-awaited recognition to these coastal habitats" Prof Dan Laffoley, editor of the IUCN report and Marine Vice Chair of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas commented.

"These habitats are shown to lock away significant amounts of carbon and this move demonstrates that the world-wide loss of such features is not just a significant concern for wildlife and coastal communities dependent on them, but also for effective management of our carbon sinks and emissions," he added.

The Secretary of Commerce is given a role administering the rules for marine offset programs in the Act.

The Clean Energy Partnerships Act was introduced by Senator Debbie Ann Stabenow (MI), and co-sponsored by Max Baucus (MT), Mark Begich (AK), Sherrod Brown (OH), Robert Casey (PA), Thomas Harkin (IA), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Bill Nelson (FL), and Jeanne Shaheen (NH).

"Our oceans are critically important to climate and the global carbon cycle. This is the first time healthy coasts and oceans have been introduced into legislation as part of the solution to climate change," said Steven J. Lutz, Executive Director of Blue Climate Solutions, the group that organized the coalition effort. "The Blue Climate Coalition commends the sponsoring Senators for demonstrating strong environmental and climate change leadership."

Additional information:

Clean Energy Partnerships Act of 2009, S. 2729

Includes coastal and marine offset projects ("projects to restore or prevent the conversion, loss, or degradation of vegetated marine coastal habitats") (see page 20, line 13)

Includes wetland offset projects ("management and restoration of peatland or wetland") (see page 20, line 4)

Authorizes the Secretary of Commerce for coastal, ocean or marine offset projects (see page 13, line 20)

Available at: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-2729

The Senate thank-you letters are available at: