Wind farms are damaging ocean carbon sinks says Member of European Parliament
Writing in 'Public Service Europe' online, MEP Struan Stevenson says we cannot afford to sanction the continued destruction of our remaining 'blue carbon' habitats merely to fast track wind farm development.
The role played by forests and peat bogs in capturing and storing carbon is well-known. We call this 'green carbon'. But now, there is increasing awareness and attention being paid to the crucial role of our oceans and marine ecosystems in maintaining our climate. Around 55 per cent of all the biological carbon captured in the world is sequestered by marine living organisms in the sea. This is 'blue carbon'.
Every day, we add a further 22 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide to our oceans. That is why maintaining and improving the ability of our oceans to capture and store carbon is of vital importance to human survival. We can no longer afford to overlook the critical role of our oceans. Without the essential ecosystem service they provide, climate change would be far worse. Seagrass meadows also provide an important habitat for shellfish and finfish and help maintain biodiversity, water quality and prevent coastal erosion. Their presence and abundance is therefore a good measure of the environmental quality of the entire coastal zone.
Recent research has indicated that a tiny part of the marine environment – the mangrove swamps, salt marshes and seagrasses that cover just 0.5 per cent of the seabed – account for the capture of at least half, and maybe three-quarters, of this blue carbon. They are our blue carbon sinks and keeping them in good shape could be one of our most important undertakings to control climate change. While most mangrove swamps are in the tropics and subtropics, the United Kingdom possesses large areas of the other blue carbon stores with its seagrass meadows and salt marshes.