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Investing in ocean-based climate solutions

Our planet is facing a climate emergency, and time is running out to reverse the terrible damage that we’re doing to the natural world. It’s time to invest in the ocean to fight the climate crisis.

25

%

of our carbon emissions are captured and stored by the sea

1

%

global climate finance is spent on the ocean

98

%

of carbon stored in the UK's seafloor is found in areas where there are no trawling restrictions

We need our ocean to fight the climate emergency

Removing and storing dangerous pollution from the air we breathe is only possible with the support of a healthy ocean. But without protection, restoration and investment, our ocean cannot fight the escalating climate crisis.

A new paper from Deloitte, produced in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society and Whale and Dolphin Conservation, explores just how little funding ocean-based solutions to the climate crisis receive.

Quite literally, a drop in the ocean.

Humpback Whale calf on its side Clinton Hastings

Credit: Clifton Hastings via Shutterstock

As Deloitte’s research outlines, our blue planet and the life it contains is largely valued as a resource to be plundered; this will inevitably lead to ecological and eventually economic bankruptcy.

In fact, the UK’s blue carbon assets have a higher financial value than fishing, fossil fuels and renewable energy combined.

When offered a path that averts total economic collapse, gives huge reward and for little investment, why would we choose to look the other way?

Mike Barber, Deloitte
Grey Seals in the surf Loch Eriboll Scotland Kirsty Andrews

Credit: Kirsty Andrews

What the research tells us

  • The crucial role of the ocean in fighting the climate crisis is largely unrecognised by businesses and policymakers. As a result, it is underfunded
  • Natural climate solutions receive less than 3% of all climate finance, with the ocean receiving less than 1%
  • For every USD 1 invested in rebuilding marine life, around USD 10 are generated in economic return
  • With the right corrective actions we can achieve ocean recovery as soon as 2050
  • The UK is providing some leadership: from a climate finance fund of £11.6 billion, it has committed at least £3 billion to nature-based solutions.

The UK’s seagrasses, muds, sands and saltmarshes alone capture more carbon dioxide than the UK’s woodlands.

In 2019, the US government spent one hundred times more on NASA (USD 21.5 billion) than on ‘Ocean, Coastal, and Great Lakes Research’ (USD 219 million).

Roughly half of this was assigned to funding missions to the Moon and Mars, despite, as Dr Snelgrove said: “the fact that we have yet to extract a gram of food, a breath of oxygen or a drop of water from those bodies.”

Without investment in protection and restoration our ocean can't effectively fight the climate crisis.

Sandy Luk, Chief Executive
Seagrass bed Georgie Bull

Credit: Georgie Bull

What we want

By comparing the carbon capture of forests to oceans, and the dramatically lower acknowledgement of and financial backing in ocean-based solutions, we hope to highlight the senselessness of overlooking 71% of the surface of the planet, 90% of the biosphere and our largest carbon sink.

Together with Whale and Dolphin Conservation we want to see funding for nature-based solutions to the climate crisis increase, with funding in the ocean in line with that for the terrestrial environment.

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