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Blue Carbon

The Scoping Action on Blue Carbon is examining how a JPI Oceans Joint Action could address the knowledge gaps in relation to Blue Carbon as a measure for climate mitigation.

Description

At its 26th meeting in February 2022, the JPI Oceans Management Board agreed to launch this Scoping Action, based on an idea put forward by Ireland. A scoping process is now organised with experts from science, policy and other domains to flesh out the idea into a proposal for a Joint Action. The Management Board will then decide on adoption of the new Joint Action and the forms of implementation during one of its upcoming meetings.

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  • Scoping

Overview

Duration

Mar 2022 - Apr 2023

Type of action

Scoping Action

Lead countries

Ireland

France

Participating countries

Belgium
Denmark
Estonia
France
Germany
Greece
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Norway
Poland
Portugal
United Kingdom
About

The JPI Oceans Management Board on 23 February 2022 decided to go into a scoping phase for a future Joint Action (JA) on addressing Blue Carbon as a key nature-based climate mitigation measure in the broader context of negative emissions technologies (NETs).

The scoping process is foreseen to include policy dialogues with relevant policy-makers, in addition to a workshop gathering scientific experts and will result in a Concept Paper to be presented to the JPI Oceans Management Board.

Objectives

Despite the increasing effort to understand blue carbon and its role in climate change mitigation, it is clear that key knowledge gaps remain including future threats (climate change itself) and optimum management options. There is also a need for improved policy-relevant knowledge on how the carbon sink capacity of blue carbon habitats can be applied in management and practice.

The objective of the Scoping Action is to assess the scope, feasibility, relevance, and design of a potential JPI Oceans Joint Action (JA) addressing Blue Carbon as a key nature-based climate mitigation ecosystem service in the broader context of negative emissions technologies (NETs) and in providing scientific advice and evidence to help meet national, EU and international environmental and climate policy goals. 

Impact

A JPI Oceans Joint Action could facilitate the development of enhanced European collaboration in addressing knowledge gaps in relation to Blue Carbon. Some specific areas for future research that will be considered in the scoping phase include: 

  • Carbon dynamics – examine the carbon storage capacity of European blue carbon habitats across different geomorphic settings; examine non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions across a range of sites, identify degraded sites and quantify the carbon emissions and associated greenhouse gases from degradation; examine carbon storage capacity for potential blue carbon ecosystems across Europe, examine routes of transfer of carbon and improve methods to enable the capacity to trace carbon from donor to sink habitats; 
  • Future threats – consider how future climate change scenarios will affect the “blue carbon” sink; i.e. global warming, sea-level rise, eutrophication and ocean acidification.  
  • Management - effective management strategies are required to ensure the conservation and preservation of the carbon sequestration capacity of Europe’s marine and coastal habitats. Management in potential blue carbon ecosystems is more challenging and cooperation between scientists and stakeholders is needed to ensure positive outcomes and alignment with national climate adaptation plans and the EU Green Deal. In addition, an improved knowledge and evidence-base would better support restoration of previously degraded blue carbon habitats. 
  • Policy Advice – synthesise available knowledge and provide advice and recommendations to policy makers in Europe in a global context to facilitate the consideration and application of blue carbon and marine carbon sequestration in national and international climate mitigation policy frameworks (e.g. National Inventory Reports on Greenhouse Gases to UNFCCC and nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement).  
Why is this important?

Oceans and coastal marine systems play a significant role in the global carbon cycle, representing the largest long-term sink of carbon. Appropriate management of coastal and oceanic systems is therefore of high importance in contributing to climate mitigation through enhanced carbon capture.  

The emergence of blue carbon as a concept for the integration of coastal carbon dynamics into policy and management frameworks has been highly important as a low regret, nature-based solution with co-benefits. In the context of climate policy frameworks, blue carbon has been defined as the carbon accumulating in vegetated, tidally influenced coastal ecosystems such as tidal marshes, tidal forests (including mangroves), and seagrass meadows (International Blue Carbon Scientific Working Group, 2015).

It is well established that these coastal habitats have the potential to mitigate climate change through the drawdown and storage of carbon and that the destruction of these habitats can result in significant amounts of CO2 released back into the atmosphere.