Blue Carbon Policy Options Assessment

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Mangroves, salt marshes, and sea grasses store significant amounts of carbon and have great greenhouse gas mitigation potential. To date these ecosystems – known as “blue carbon” - have largely fallen outside of international and national climate change mitigation policies. This report was commissioned by the Linden Trust for Conservation to assess options for protecting and/or restoring blue carbon ecosystems under climate change policy and financing mechanisms. The report analyses and prioritizes actions in the IPCC reporting guidelines, UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol, regional and national emissions trading systems, the voluntary market amongst others. By advising on the most likely policy options to advance blue carbon, this report enables stakeholders to make informed decisions on where to focus efforts that will support the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from these important ecosystems.
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    SubtitleTitle   Blue CarbonPolicy OptionsAssessment    Blue CarbonPolicy Options Assessment15 June 2011The Linden Trust for ConservationVersion 4.0 Climate Focus1025 Connecticut Avenue, NWSuite 1102Washington, DC 20036  Blue Carbon Policy Options Assessment Climate Focus 3/60 Content 1.   Introduction 4   2.   Summary of Key Findings andRecommendations 6   2.1.   Priority Recommendations 6   2.2.   Overview of key findings 7   3.   IPCC reporting guidelines 9   3.1.   Key Findings 9   3.2.   IPCC guidance 10   4.   Incentives for blue carbon mitigation underthe Kyoto Protocol 13   4.1.   Key Findings 13   4.2.   Annex I Accounting under the Kyoto Protocol 14   4.3.   Joint Implementation (JI) 17   4.4.   Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) 18   5.   Incentives for blue carbon mitigation underthe UNFCCC 21   5.1.   Key Findings 21   5.2.   Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions 21   5.3.   Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and ForestDegradation (REDD+) 28   6.   Options for blue carbon under regional anddomestic trading schemes 31   6.1.   Key Findings 32   6.2.   Australia 32   6.3.   European Union 35   6.4.   California 37   7.   Options for blue carbon under voluntarystandards 39   7.1.   Key Findings 40   7.2.   Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) 40   8.   Other Relevant Areas 41   8.1.   Key Findings 41   8.2.   Fast-start Finance and Other International Support41   8.3.   Adaptation 44   Annex I: Status and development of NAMAs inrelevant countries 46   Annex II: Fast-start finance and channellinginstitutions 54    Blue Carbon Policy Options Assessment Climate Focus 4/60 1.   Introduction Marine and coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves, salt marshes, and sea grasses, 1 store large amounts ofcarbon 2 , often referred to as “blue carbon”. 3 These types of ecosystems and vegetation may have anannual mitigation potential in the range of 300 to 900 Mt CO 2 e. 4 This is equivalent to 7-20% of the annualemissions from global deforestation and forest degradation, 5 despite blue carbon ecosystems only covering1-2% of the total area of forest ecosystems. 6 Unlike terrestrial forests in which a higher percentage ofcarbon is found in above-ground biomass, in coastal habitats, the largest carbon pool is found in the soil;about 95-99% of the total carbon stock for salt marshes and sea grasses, and 50-90% for mangroves. 7  Mangroves in particular are among the most carbon-rich vegetation forms, and may store approximately3,750 tCO 2 e per hectare on average, with organic-rich soils ranging from 0.5 to over 3 meters. 8  In addition to their role as a global carbon sink, these coastal and marine ecosystems also provide keyenvironmental services, such as preventing shoreline erosion, purifying water, and serving as an importantfishery habitat, amongst others. As cities expand and coastal populations grow however, theseenvironmental services and the ecosystems that provide them are under increased stress from urbandevelopment and agricultural expansion. The rate of loss of these ecosystems is unclear, but roughestimates calculate that between 0.7% and 2% are lost each year. 9 Loss and conversion of coastalwetlands typically occurs through draining, dredging, landfill, sediment diversion and hydraulic alteration. 10  Drainage of wetlands is particularly problematic because it not only causes loss of future sequestrationpotential, but also releases the soil’s carbon stock through oxidation.While the anthropogenic drivers of coastal ecosystem loss are fairly well known, there are differencesbetween the primary drivers of loss of mangrove, salt marsh, and sea grass. Conversion for agriculture,aquaculture (e.g. shrimp farming), and wood harvest are the principle contributors to mangrove loss, whilesalt marshes are typically drained for either agriculture or salt ponds. 11 They are also impacted byindustrial/urban use and reduced sediment supply. Sea grass beds differ in that their loss is primarilydriven by water quality degradation and mechanical damage from dredging, trawling, and anchoring. 12  These drivers vary geographically and the exact proportions of loss that can be attributed to each require 1 Nellemen, C., Corcoran, E., Duarte, C.M., Valdés, L., De Young, C., Fonseca, L., and G. Grimsditch (Eds). 2009. BlueCarbon: The Role of Healthy Oceans in Binding Carbon. A Rapid Response Assessment. United Nations EnvironmentProgram (Nellmen et al. 2009). 2 Laffoley, D. and G. Grimsdicth (Eds.) 2009. The Management of Natural Coastal Carbon Sinks. IUCN. 3 Nellemen et al. 2009. It should be noted that the concept of “blue carbon” does not extend to peat forests andwetlands that are not coastal. While there are certainly some similarities between these ecosystems that also store largequantities of soil organic carbon and blue carbon, there are also important differences and as a result they are notconsidered within blue carbon. 4 Murray, B.C., Pendleton, L., Jenkins, W.A., and S. Sifleet. 2011. Green Payments for Blue Carbon: EconomicIncentives for Protecting Threatened Coastal Habitats. Nicholas Institute Report (Murray et al. 2009). 5 Van der Werf, G.R., Morton, D.C., DeFries, R.S., Olivier, J.G.J., Kasibhatla, P.S., Jackson, R.B., Collatz, G.J., and J.T.Randerson. 2009. CO2 emissions from forest loss. Nature Geoscience  , vol. 2: 737-738. 6 Murray et al. 2011, supranote  4; FAO. 2011. State of the World’s Forests 2011. Available from: 7 Murray et al. 2011, supranote  4; Donato, C.D., Kauffman, J.B., Murdiyarso, D., Kurnianto, S., Stidham, M., and M.Kanninen. 2011. Mangroves among the most carbon-rich forests in the tropics. Nature Geoscience  . Online 3 April2011 (Donato et al. 2011). 8 Donato et al. 2011, supranote  7. 9 Murray et al. 2011, supranote  4. 10 Crooks, S., Herr, D., Tamelander, J., Laffoley, D., and J. Vandever. 2011. Mitigating Climate Change throughRestoration and Management of Coastal Wetlands and Near-Shore Marine Ecosystems: Challenges and Opportunities.The World Bank Environment Department, Paper #121 (Crooks et al. 2011). 11 Murray et al. 2011, supranote  4. 12 Murray et al. 2011, supranote  4.
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