Restoring the seas around Britain is as important to achieving net zero carbon emissions as reforesting, campaigners have said.
Around 205 million tonnes of carbon are stored in the UK’s coastal waters, 50 million more than is held in all of the country’s standing forests, according to a report by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and Rewilding Britain.
The study, Blue Carbon – Ocean-Based Solutions To Fight The Climate Crisis, says restoring seagrass, saltmarsh, oyster reefs and kelp forests to Britain’s coastal waters, which cover 500,000 km2 (193,000 miles2) in all, would be a huge boost towards meeting carbon-cutting goals .
Roughly 43,000 tonnes of carbon is drawn down into the saltmarsh and seagrass habitat of the British Isles, the report said, a rate of between two and four times that of tropical forests.
Currently the UK has about 427 km2 (165 miles2) of saltmarshes, but is losing them at an estimated 100 hectares a year.
Even in their current depleted state, the UK’s existing stock of saltmarshes and seagrass beds have the carbon storage potential of between 1,000 and 2,000 km2 (386 miles2 and 772 miles2) of tropical forests, the research found.
More from Daily Climate Show
- Faslane: Activists locked to giant flower pots blockade nuclear base
- MI6 ‘green spying’ on biggest polluters to ensure nations keep climate change promises
- Generation Climate: ‘How is the future going to be beautiful if the present is looking catastrophic?’
- Climate change forcing people out of ‘one of the most uninhabitable places on Earth’
- ClimateCast podcast: Around the world on Earth Day
- Greta Thunberg changes Twitter bio to ‘bunny hugger’ after Boris Johnson’s climate summit remarks
Globally, saltmarsh and seagrass beds can store up to 450 million tonnes of CO2 a year – almost half the emissions of the world’s entire transport sector.
Ministers should develop an “ocean charter” to implement nature recovery plans including the establishment of low-carbon fisheries and aquaculture, such as the development of shellfish reefs, the MCS and Rewilding Britain have argued.
In addition, they’re demanding fisheries-related carbon emissions be halved by 2030.
Ministers have committed to planting 11 million trees by 2022, but now the MCS wants to see similar commitments to the ocean and wetlands.
By 2019, 21.8 million hectares of UK waters had some degree of environmental protection, according to the Office for National Statistics.
But the two organisations accuse these of being “paper parks” with little or no enforcement banning the most damaging activities.
Dr Chris Tuckett, MCS Director of Programmes, said: “Carbon contained in marine and coastal ecosystems must be considered in the same way as our woodlands and peatbog – critical to the UK’s carbon strategy.”
Rewilding Britain Chief Executive, Rebecca Wrigley, said: “We’re calling for the rewilding and protection of at least 30% of Britain’s seas by 2030.”
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
Sky News broadcasts the first daily prime time news show dedicated to climate change.
Hosted by Anna Jones, The Daily Climate Show is following Sky News correspondents as they investigate how global warming is changing our landscape and how we all live our lives.
The show will also highlight solutions to the crisis and show how small changes can make a big difference.
Watch on Sky News at 6.30pm and 9.30pm, or online and via the Sky News app.
- Scotland not doing enough to tackle climate change despite new target, campaigners say
- Climate change threatens marine protected areas
- Hundreds of fish species will be forced to migrate north to escape effects of climate change
- Families from 8 countries sue EU over climate change
- 'Disappointment' over climate change bill
- Americans who believe in conspiracy theories about 9/11 and Princess Diana's death more likely to doubt climate change
- Worst-case climate change scenario could be more extreme than thought, scientists warn
- Britain's strategy to meet climate change targets not sufficient, say lawmakers
- Students get Utah lawmakers to acknowledge human role in climate change
- Keeping fossil fuels in the ground is the only way to save polar bears ravaged by climate change
- South Africa Working On Climate Change Bill
- Opinion: Why cities are putting Big Oil on trial for climate change
- Prominent scientist Michael E. Mann rebukes climate change denialism at Case Western Reserve University conference (video)
- First Lady calls for action to restore forest cover
- Africa: How Planting Trees Can Protect Cocoa Plants Against Climate Change
- Sudan: Hilal Affirms Sudan Commitment to Climate Change Agreement
- Germany invests 690 million baht to help Thailand adjust to climate change
- Nigeria: Buhari Calls for International Community's Support On Climate Change
- Tackling climate change together
- Former French PM attacks US decision to withdraw from Paris Agreement amid warnings of rapid climate change
Climate change: Rewilding UK's seas is 'as urgent as restoring forests' in reducing emissions, campaigners say have 770 words, post on news.sky.com at May 4, 2021. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.