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Natural Awakenings, Broward County, Florida

Oceans are Key to Controlling Climate

Ocean coastline with waves along sandy beach and clouds in sky

Pink Candy/AdobeStock.com

UK Environmental Justice Foundation report states that countries must recognize the important role that oceans have in limiting climate change and enact policies to protect marine ecosystems. More than 50 percent of the Earth’s biological carbon is captured by animals and plants living in or around oceans, but this “blue carbon” and its associated ecosystems have been neglected in climate policy, according to a letter accompanying the report. Conservation International notes that up to 10 times more carbon is stored in coastal habitats than in tropical forests. Seagrass meadows store nearly 20 billion tons of carbon worldwide. The report states that oceans could soak up large quantities of atmospheric carbon if their ecosystems are restored and protected.

Those ecosystems are threatened by rising water temperatures, acidification, overfishing and commercial shipping, and lead author Isabella Shraiman says, “There has been a tendency for policymakers to silo environmental action: conservation policy is formulated separately from decarbonization policy, to the detriment of both. What we need now is ambitious, holistic and joined-up action. Blue carbon solutions can be a low-hanging fruit within an ambitious climate mitigation policy portfolio and address the triple emergency of the climate crisis, biodiversity collapse and human rights.”