Great Barrier Reef Gary Yim

Our new report: Blue carbon and rewilding our waters

2 minute read

Victoria Riglen, Head of Communications and Campaigns

4 May 2021

We’ve launched a new report in partnership with Rewilding Britain: Blue Carbon – Ocean-based solutions to fight the climate crisis.

The report outlines the importance of our seas in helping the UK to reach net zero by 2050.

To ‘reach net zero’ the amount of greenhouse gases produced, and the amount taken away or absorbed, must come to zero. So, while we can all try to fly less, walk more and take individual actions to reduce our carbon footprint, we also need to push for more solutions to removing greenhouse gases.

By protecting and rewilding habitats in our ocean, blue carbon stores will have increased capacity and ability to store carbon.

Humpback Whale mother and calf in waters near Tonga Michael Smith ITWP

Credit: Michael Smith ITWP via Shutterstock

The significant role of the world’s forests in helping to reduce carbon emissions has been recognised resulting in initiatives and reforesting projects intended to keep carbon locked in land. Unfortunately, equivalent solutions in the ocean are often overlooked.

We need to look to blue carbon solutions in tandem with those on land to reach our goals of tackling the climate crisis.

Carbon contained in marine and coastal habitats must be considered in the same way as woodlands and peatbogs…critical to the UK’s carbon strategy.

Dr Chris Tuckett, Director of Programmes

Dr Chris Tuckett, Director of Programmes: “Our report outlines how vital blue carbon solutions are to an effective strategy which reaches net zero by 2050. We’re calling on the UK Government and devolved administrations to act with urgency to invest in, co-develop and implement a four nation Blue Carbon Strategy.”

Read more about the Blue Carbon Strategy, and key action areas in the full report.

Globally, rewilding key blue carbon stores such as seagrass beds, saltmarshes and mangroves could deliver carbon dioxide mitigation amounting to 1.83 billion tonnes. That’s 5% of the emissions savings we need to make globally. This figure doesn’t include the enormous quantities of carbon stored in fish and other marine life;  coral reefs, seaweeds and shellfish beds; or the vast stores of carbon in our seabed sediments.

We’re calling for the rewilding and protection of at least 30% of Britain’s seas by 2030.

Rebecca Wrigley, Rewilding Britain’s Chief Executive
Thong weed seaweed isle of Coll Scotland Mark Kirkland

Thong weed seaweed off the Isle of Coll

Credit: Mark Kirkland

Rebecca Wrigley, Rewilding Britain’s Chief Executive: "Allowing a rich rainbow of underwater habitats and their sealife to recover offers huge opportunities for tackling the nature and climate crises, and for benefiting people’s livelihoods,”

“From Dornoch Firth to Lyme Bay, inspiring projects are leading the way by restoring critically important seagrass meadows, kelp forests and oyster beds. Combined with the exclusion of bottom towed trawling and dredging, such initiatives offer hope and a blueprint for bringing our precious seas back to health.”

Later this year, the UK will be hosting COP26 - the UN Climate Change Conference – in Glasgow. The conference brings together world leaders to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The ocean and its blue carbon stores are a crucial part of the many urgent and varied solutions required to address the climate crisis.

The UK has committed to significantly increase its spending on nature-based solutions, including those offered by the ocean.  The Marine Conservation Society and Rewilding Britain are calling on UK governments to adopt ocean-based solutions at pace and scale by 2030.