Blue resilience carbon credit project supported by XL Catlin

11-05-2018

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and XL Catlin have created a project to develop blue resilience carbon credits, valuing the combined carbon sequestration and resilience benefits provided by coastal wetland ecosystems.

Support provided by XL Catlin will allow TNC to explore the development of a system of credits assigning a market value to the resilience services provided by these ecosystems, which are historically undervalued.

According to the companies the hope behind this initiative is that, for the first time, insurance firms and other businesses will be able to offset their carbon footprint while simultaneously better understanding the contribution they are making to reducing coastal hazards in the world’s most vulnerable coastal areas.

Coastal wetlands – salt marshes, seagrass meadows and mangroves – sequester billions of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere at concentrations up to five times greater than terrestrial forests. The carbon sequestered and stored in these coastal wetlands is called “blue carbon.” As an increasing number of companies are purchasing carbon credits to offset their footprints, this credit will enable a valuation of the carbon sequestration and coastal resilience benefits that wetlands provide both businesses and communities.

Unlike other climate mitigation solutions coastal wetlands not only sequester carbon, they also protect coastlines by absorbing incoming wave energy and providing storm protection, often at lower costs than built infrastructure like seawalls and levees. STNC said that scientists estimate that it only takes 100 meters of mangroves to reduce wave height by 66 percent, and a recent study found that wetlands prevented $625 million in direct flood damages from Hurricane Sandy in the United States. As such, coastal wetlands provide both carbon sequestration and resilience services, a powerful combination in a world of changing climate.

TNC added that considering that 40 percent of the world’s population today lives in coastal areas, protection from sea-level rise and more frequent and intense storms is crucial. Unfortunately, coastal ecosystems are degrading rapidly. It is estimated that half of the world’s mangroves and seagrasses are already gone, and that at the current rate, unprotected mangroves could be gone entirely by 2100. When these systems are lost or degraded, they become a source of greenhouse gases - annual emissions from the loss of blue carbon ecosystems are estimated to be 450 Mt CO2, up to 19 percent of terrestrial land use emissions.

With XL Catlin's support TNC said that it will explore different options to value the resilience services provided by coastal wetlands and to develop a credit product to support ongoing wetland conservation. One of these options could include a numeric ranking system assigning a dollar value to wetlands based on factors such as their potential for storm impact reduction, location relative to vulnerable communities, local economic activities and assets, and potential benefits from habitat restoration. The figures generated by the rankings, combined with the carbon storage capacity of a given wetland, would generate Blue Carbon Resilience Credits. These credits would then offer organisations the capacity to manage their carbon footprints whilst acting as the funding mechanism for wetland conservation, increasing coastal resilience for communities.

XL Catlin, TNC, blue carbon, resilience, credits, project, climate change, coastal wetlands

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