Klere is working to promote seagrass

Climate change is disrupting the world’s oceans. Alarm bells about warming seas, loss of marine biodiversity, species migration, marine heatwaves, sea level rise, and coral bleaching are regularly making headlines. The ocean is both a victim and a potential solution to climate change. But could it play a much more significant role in shrinking the world’s carbon footprint?

The answer may lie with seagrass, a little-known wonder plant that can capture carbon up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests. Seagrass meadows have the potential to sequester and store significant amounts of carbon dissolved in our oceans which is known as blue carbon, which was also featured in a COP27 roundtable a couple of weeks ago. Specialists in marine science explored how the ocean may help reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere over the long term via Blue Carbon.

Panelist Dr. Ana Querios of Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the UK said: “Facing both a climate change emergency and a biodiversity crisis, it is our job to make sure we fully understand the ability of the ocean to help mitigate each of these issues and to support the development of solutions that protect it.”

Around the world, there are a considerable number of seagrass restoration projects in the pilot stage. Only one of these has been verified by Verra, an accreditation body responsible for developing and managing standards via its Verified Carbon Standard in the voluntary carbon market (VCM). Verra has a vital role in standardising requirements for carbon sequestration projects.

At Klere, we believe there is investment potential in this market. We are supporting the investment process of a seagrass restoration project in Asia to achieve Verra accreditation and drive investment into larger schemes. Blue carbon credits can easily tap into the established carbon credit marketplace when verified and certified appropriately.

While lowering emissions should be the utmost priority for all businesses, some carbon offsetting will inevitably be a necessary element of any strategy to achieve net zero emissions. Most carbon offset projects focus on tree planting for their potential to sequester atmospheric carbon. Seagrass projects have been eligible to receive offset credits since 2015 when Verra published the first seagrass offset-credit accounting framework and rules to cover wetland conservation were expanded in 2020Hence, the new rules allow other ecosystems, such as seagrasses and seafloor sediments, to generate carbon credits. If blue carbon can achieve verification under the Verra or other schemes, it could become a destination for carbon offset investors.

Carbon credits are just one way to finance these blue carbon projects for carbon sequestration. There are also philanthropic donations and government-funded grants available. However, these projects require long-term sustainable finance to keep them moving forward, which is why the carbon credit market is vital.

Seagrass restoration is not without its challenges. The process is labour-intensive, expensive, and complicated work. Collecting seeds and maturing them in the tanks take time. After maturity, they are pumped into the seagrass bed. There are a lot of unknowns – even the amount of carbon sediments on the seafloor has yet to be mapped precisely. In contrast to our long-term experience on land, we have yet to have much experience planting at sea.

In conclusion, there are significant opportunities for ocean sequestration projects, but they typically received less attention to date. Seagrass habitats have substantial potential to sequester carbon alongside its benefits, including biodiversity and coastal ecosystem protection. Will it ever reach its full potential in the fight against climate change? The hope is to protect what’s left and restore what we have lost.

Posted by Betul Baykal

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