Why Blue Carbon Matters
Blue carbon refers to carbon stored in the above and belowground biomass and sediments of coastal and marine environments. These ecosystems store massive amounts of carbon, making them an integral part of global efforts to combat climate change. Their carbon sinks are affected, however, when they are degraded or destroyed, resulting in CO2 emissions being released into the atmosphere.
More efforts—and finance options—are needed to conserve rather than destroy these vitally important habitats.
The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program incentivizes protecting coastal and marine ecosystems by enabling organizations, businesses, and other entities to leverage carbon finance to fund conservation and restoration activities.
I. Coastal and Tidal Blue Carbon
Mangroves, tidal salt marshes, and seagrass meadows sequester and store more carbon per unit area than terrestrial forests. They also provide coastal protection from storms, food security for coastal communities, and improved water quality. Coastal environments’ ability to remove CO2 from the atmosphere makes them globally significant carbon sinks and an essential part of the solution to mitigating climate change.
The VCS Program includes the following methodologies for the conservation and restoration of coastal and tidal blue carbon ecosystems:
- Methodology for Tidal Wetland and Seagrass Restoration (VM0033)
- Methodology for Coastal Wetland Creation (VM0024)—only applicable in the USA
Entities can apply these methodologies to conservation and restoration projects to quantify the emission reduction and removal benefits and be issued Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) to sell in the voluntary carbon market.
Verra’s Innovation in Coastal and Tidal Blue Carbon
Blue Carbon Working Group
Verra formed a Blue Carbon Working Group in early 2020 to explore and address challenges and opportunities for coastal wetland restoration and conservation. The group provides recommendations for how the VCS and supporting methodologies can incentivize blue carbon activities.
Wetland Restoration and Conservation (WRC) Requirements
Developed by Verra and a working group of technical experts, the WRC requirements enable the crediting of restoration and conservation activities across wetland ecosystems under the VCS Program. The WRC requirements apply to all wetland ecosystems, not only those considered “blue carbon,” and include accounting for ecological leakage (defined as changes in GHG emissions from ecosystems that are hydrologically connected to the project area) and other innovations.
II. Marine Blue Carbon
Marine ecosystems and related ocean activities such as seaweed farming, kelp forest restoration, and seabed management sequester and store carbon in ocean waters and sediments. No methodologies under the VCS Program or any voluntary standard currently support these activities.
The scientific community is rapidly investigating these ecosystems’ carbon storage potential and how activities like seaweed farming might enhance that potential. Verra is exploring how the VCS Program could be expanded to support these emerging activities.
Verra’s Innovation in Marine Blue Carbon
Seascape Carbon Initiative
Verra is exploring how to expand opportunities to restore and conserve marine blue carbon by driving forward research on seascape management activities through our Seascape Carbon Initiative.