Environmental nonprofit organization Carbon180 has released a white paper detailing different policy recommendations for ocean carbon removal.
As the world’s largest carbon sink containing nearly 50 times the amount of CO2 present in the atmosphere, the ocean holds massive potential in climate change mitigation.
Namely, the vast body of water can be utilized to absorb even more carbon dioxide from the air, thus helping curb rising global temperatures.
However, Carbon180 says the process of doing so is still subject to research and the world is in need of robust policies and legal frameworks, as well as clear scientific methodologies to make sure ocean carbon dioxide removal (CDR) is achieved with no harm to the environment, especially given the many different pathways that exist.
In its recent white paper, Carbon180 neither endorses nor opposes ocean CDR, but instead addresses existing knowledge gaps on the matter and outlines how policy can help fill these gaps.
Sifang Chen, Managing Science and Innovation Advisor of Carbon180, spoke with Carbon Herald about the dangers of low funding, as well as the lack of research and controlled field tests.
Furthermore, according to Chen, the deployment of ocean CDR without existing governance and regulations could lead to a range of climate injustices and environmental racism.
“If we don’t have accountability and oversight, we can’t hold developers accountable and we may see wide-ranging negative ecosystem and community impacts, including damage to fisheries, invasive species, and toxic algae blooms. But if we take a phased approach to deployment, we can resolve the tension between the need to carry out ocean CDR and the need to safeguard the ocean and nearby communities from any unintended consequences,” Chen said.
When we asked about striking a balance between developing frameworks and guardrails for ocean CDR and scaling the technology, Chen acknowledged that doing so may certainly be complicated, but she believes it doesn’t have to be if the development of frameworks becomes an iterative process with timely policy updates based on the best available science.
“Overall, robust policy can allow the industry to enable timely research and development for ocean CDR, as well as support the development of ocean CDR technologies under a framework of responsible innovation and equitable distribution of benefits.”