Oceans Can Contribute to Biden Announcement of Bold Greenhouse Gas Reductions
For Immediate Release
April 22, 2021
Lance Morgan, Lance.Morgan@marine-conservation.org, 707-217-8242 (cell)
Mike Gravitz, Michael.Gravitz@marine-conservation.org, 301-351-5052 (cell)
[Glen Ellen, CA] Today, a little after 8:00 am eastern and before dozens of world leaders participating in the Leader’s Summit on Climate, President Biden set bold greenhouse gas emission reductions for the United States—cutting 2005 emission levels in half by 2030— as US policy. He said in part, “…the US sets out on the road to cut greenhouse gases in half by the end of this decade”.
In less than 100 days, the President has reentered the Paris Climate Accords and proposed groundbreaking legislation (American Jobs Plan) that would make very large investments in clean energy, energy conservation and coastal resilience and restoration*. Contributing to the steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, ocean-based climate solutions like offshore wind, restoring carbon removal ecosystems like marshes and seagrass beds, eliminating bottom trawling from marine sanctuaries and establishing new marine protected areas could play a significant role.
Dr. Lance Morgan, President of Marine Conservation Institute, praised President Biden for his high climate change ambition, and said, “It is so exciting to see the President taking urgently needed action and leading on climate change. The administration recognizes that US commitments to the Paris Climate Accords must include ocean-based solutions and supports the conservation of 30% of our lands and waters which will also address climate change and future resiliency.”
He added, “While more precise estimates of how much blue carbon ecosystems can contribute to the climate fight are needed, the number is likely to be large. Protecting and restoring areas like marshes, seagrass beds, mangroves and high carbon content seafloor areas from bottom trawling will undoubtedly boost US climate commitments. We are working to identify and conserve these areas as part of meeting the 30 by 30 and climate commitments.”
On the size of potential ocean-based solutions for fighting climate change, the High Level Panel on a Sustainable Ocean, a group of well-known ocean policy makers, scientists and 14 countries, examined a number of these solutions and calculated that they could collectively contribute 20% of the reductions needed to hold the world’s temperature beneath the Paris Climate Accord accepted level.
A recent report in Nature calculated that protecting just a small percentage of the seabed from bottom trawling that stirs bottom carbon sediments into the water column where they are then released into the atmosphere would reduce global emissions by about one gigaton of CO2 annually, an amount equivalent to the entire global aviation sector or greater than the annual emissions of all countries except China, the U.S., India, Russia and Japan
Dr. Morgan, continued, “As marine scientists, we are committed to the goal of setting aside 30% of representative areas of the ocean –one third for nature—by 2030 as a means of conserving marine life for future generations and fighting climate change. Using marine science, we are on the path to identifying the places that can provide maximum benefits of these kinds with a minimum of disruption.”
About Marine Conservation Institute (www.marine-conservation.org)
Marine Conservation Institute, founded in 1996, works in the U.S. and globally to seek strong protection for at least 30% of the ocean by 2030—for us and future generations. Our focus on protecting the ocean’s most important places follows several lines of work: identifying and advocating for strong marine protected areas; improving laws and other tools to better conserve marine biodiversity; catalyzing effective conservation by recognizing and elevating the best marine protected areas as Blue Parks and Blue Sparks; and accurately reporting on conservation efforts with our Marine Protection Atlas (MPAtlas.org).
*From the White House Factsheet: American Jobs Plan, March 31, 2021
”Maximize the resilience of land and water resources to protect communities and the environment. President Biden’s plan will protect and, where necessary, restore nature-based infrastructure – our lands, forests, wetlands, watersheds, and coastal and ocean resources. Families and businesses throughout the United States rely on this infrastructure for their lives and livelihoods. President Biden is calling on Congress to invest in protection from extreme wildfires, coastal resilience to sea-level rise and hurricanes, support for agricultural resources management and climate-smart technologies, and the protection and restoration of major land and water resources like Florida’s Everglades and the Great Lakes. Additionally, the President’s plan provides funding for the western drought crisis by investing in water efficiency and recycling programs, Tribal Water Settlements, and dam safety. President Biden’s plan will empower local leaders to shape these restoration and resilience project funds in line with the Outdoor Restoration Force Act.”
For additional materials including logos and photos, please contact our head of communications, Madeleine Serkissian at Madeleine.Serkissian@marine-conservation.org.