The economic benefits of carbon storage in the Mediterranean Sea

Source: Science for Environment Policy

Carbon storage in the Mediterranean Sea could be worth up to €1722 million a year, a new study has found. The researchers performed a combined ecological-economic assessment, finding that the sea takes up an estimated 17.8 million tonnes of CO2 every year, providing important climate change mitigation.

Marine ecosystems are essential for human life. They provide a host of ecosystem services on which society depends. One of the most important is carbon storage. Marine systems are thought to absorb approximately 2 billion tonnes of carbon every year, corresponding to around 25% of human emissions. The ability of the ocean to store such large quantities of CO2 prevents the gas from contributing to the greenhouse effect and slows down climate change.

One way to measure the importance of ecosystem services is via their economic value. While many ecosystem services have been measured like this, the monetary value of marine carbon sequestration is as yet unknown. As a result, market prices do not account for it, falsely suggesting that this service has zero value. Because many public and private sector decisions are made based on market information, the unquantified value of carbon sequestration could lead to poorly informed decisions about the management of marine and coastal areas.

Therefore a team of researchers, part-funded by the EU MedSeA project, estimated the economic value of marine carbon sequestration, using the Mediterranean Sea as a model. The researchers performed a combined ecological-economic assessment of carbon sequestration, consisting of a cutting edge biogeochemical model alongside European Commission estimates of the social cost of carbon emissions, which approximate the economic damages caused by increased CO2 emissions.

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