The Bahamas is planning to offer “blue carbon” credits for companies aiming to offset their greenhouse gas emissions, promising to restore and protect seagrass beds and mangrove trees while raising funds to pay for badly-needed climate resilience projects.
Prime Minister Philip Davis made the announcement at the Caribbean Renewable Energy Conference in Miami late last month.
“I want to see a Caribbean that is not dumped on any further,” the PM said. “We are a major carbon sink for the world, and we need to benefit from cleaning the Earth’s atmosphere.”
“Coastal ecosystems, such as seagrass meadows and mangrove forests, are some of the world’s most powerful carbon sinks, storing three to five times more carbon per hectare than tropical forests,” Grist explains. “They do so mainly by storing dead and decaying plant matter in the ocean floor, as well as sequestering carbon by pulling it straight from the air and water.”
Davis said his country’s 4,150 square kilometres (1,600 square miles) of mangroves and other ocean ecosystems could be worth at least US$300 million as carbon sinks. “But they’re threatened by damage from hurricanes and coastal development,” the news story states, “issues that he said the revenues from the carbon credit sales would help address.”
Grist notes that land-based offset programs involving forests and grasslands have had a checkered history, with too many developers inflating the amount of carbon they were sequestering or selling offsets for lands that were already protected. Critics see offsets of all kinds, including the “blue carbon” variety, as a form of greenwashing that gives carbon polluters an excuse to avoid or postpone their own emission reductions.
“These issues, however, haven’t slowed the rapid expansion of carbon markets, which are expected to be worth as much as $546 billion by 2050,” Grist writes, citing data from BloombergNEF.