Blue Carbon: The Planet’s Carbon Sink
Evolution and significance of blue-carbon ecosystems
Climate change is endangering economies and accelerating the extinction of marine life and their ecosystems. Growing awareness of the serious effects of environmental harm on social and economic wellbeing, and human health and wellbeing, is creating a sense of urgency for change. In the years before and after the two world wars, industrialisation gathered pace to meet significant demand for infrastructure and resources. This, combined with global population growth, resulted in a loss of habitat along shorelines and coastal areas.
Key frameworks and initiatives supporting blue-carbon ecosystems
Forest preservation and restoration, and more recently, peatland restoration, have been acknowledged as crucial for mitigating climate change. Several countries are formulating laws and programmes to ensure ecological sustainability by reducing the carbon footprint that comes with economic expansion. These include measures to protect and promote sustainable natural systems essential to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), for example, through the REDD+ framework and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). These policies and scientific analysis mechanisms have been integrated across multiple levels of implementation and are taken up through specific platforms and multi-level initiatives. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Conservation International (CI) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) jointly formed one such platform, called the Blue Carbon Initiative (BCI). This aims to create management strategies, financial incentives and regulatory frameworks to ensure the preservation, rehabilitation and self-sustaining use of shoreline blue-carbon ecosystems to provide an international forum for governmental organisations, non-governmental organisations, intergovernmental organisations and research organisations that aim to safeguard, sustainably manage and restore the world’s coastal blue-carbon ecosystems.
Representation of blue carbon at COP27
The inclusion of blue carbon and carbon sequestration in emission-reduction pathways has created a significant opportunity to strategically utilise these technologies as a long-term solution to rising CO2 emissions. However, this calls for defining the precise capacity of blue carbon and its habitats. At the most recently held annual Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) disclosed its presence in more than 30 countries through blue-carbon projects. The IAEA is collaborating with 12 nations just on the African continent to increase the capacity for blue carbon. It is educating experts and assisting in the creation of labs with the capacity to precisely assess carbon sequestration rates through this regional technical cooperation project.
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