The ecosystem service of carbon sequestration and storage provided by the marine system is of growing importance in the mitigation of climate change. Blue carbon (BC) habitats and offshore sediments can act as carbon stores and sinks and hence their protection or restoration may act as significant nature-based solution (NBS). While the focus of Blue Carbon initially has been on vegetated coastal systems such as saltmarshes, mangroves and seagrass meadows, this foresight workshop will take a broader remit, focussing on carbon stored in offshore environments such as sediments, where large uncertainties remain. The partcipants will seek to address knowledge gaps in the Blue Carbon sector, particularly within areas such as the offshore seabed system and existing shelf stocks. Understanding the dynamics at play in these areas is critical to the future placement, context and efficacy of protection measures of marine protected areas (MPAs) and highly protected marine areas (HPMAs).
This foresight workshop will consolidate the available empirical information (observed and modelled) on seabed carbon stocks and fluxes. It will do so through:
- Synthesis of available estimates of the carbon flux and stock information, with associated sources
- Utilising both observed and predicted outputs
- Synthesis of alteration of these carbon metrics under climate and trawling impacts
- Combining this information with socio-economic considerations to provide policy recommendations for tracking, valuation and management of significant seabed stocks in future
- A scientific publication summarising the state of knowledge and future direction of activities identified
- A roadmap outlining the next important steps in identifying, quantifying, protecting/managing, valuing and enhancing this key ecosystem service
- A policy & evidence summary targeting COP26 national events
The workshop will collate and translate yet untapped information, both modelled and observed from international projects, and provide an overview of the significance, ‘recoverability’ and resilience of offshore sediment POC stocks. This will inform economic analysis to allow an update of existing value estimates of changes in the carbon sequestration provision and related carbon stocks, including natural capital accounts. The outputs will consolidate and improve the confidence of a growing evidence base and highlight the requirements for offshore BC sink inventories under Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)/ UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be developed. Together this will facilitate improved blue carbon management internationally, in the future.