Guest post: Mapping ‘blue-carbon wealth’ around the world

The next frontier in this line of research is to extend the natural capital approach to include all kinds of carbon emissions and all kinds of carbon sinks, such as the ocean, soils, forests and peatlands.

In our brand-new research study, published in Nature Climate Change, we map the “blue carbon” uptake from marine and seaside communities all over the world to highlight how natural sinks and environment modification redistribute wealth around the globe.

Factoring in energy and commercial emissions, Australia has a negative outbound wealth contribution of -US$ 235.6 bn each year. Australia also experiences an unfavorable contribution to wealth from net carbon emissions abroad of -US$ 254.5 bn. This implies that, in net terms, the wealth reduction from abroad exceeds Australias worldwide carbon wealth decrease by US$ 18.9 bn.

The appropriate shadow cost to examine this negative financial investment is the “social cost of carbon” (SCC). The SCC is a price quote of the economic damages that would arise from giving off one extra tonne of CO2 into the environment at any moment. It takes into consideration both the advantages and drawbacks of CO2 emissions, but it is a total “cost” due to the fact that there are more negative impacts of environment change than favorable.

These seaside environments save and sequester carbon at substantially higher rates than forests per unit area.

The outcomes for Australia are driven by a fairly big seaside blue-carbon sequestration and a relative low price quote for the domestic minimal climate impacts. Accordingly, the 3 countries with the largest CSCC– the United States, India and China– are also the countries which benefit the most from carbon sequestration happening at home and abroad.

Each tonne of CO2 taken up by these seaside ecosystems increases worldwide inclusive wealth by a quantity equal to the SCC and can be thought about as a “blue-carbon wealth contribution”. As the CSCC differs around the world, the impact of country-specific inclusive wealth is different and, as the CO2 uptake of seaside communities differs worldwide, these processes redistribute blue-carbon wealth between countries. This wealth redistribution from blue-carbon communities has actually now been quantified at the international scale.

In the exact same method as CO2 emissions are a “unfavorable financial investment” into inclusive wealth, environments that use up CO2 from the environment enhance inclusive wealth. In our research study, we focus specifically on the carbon sequestration of coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves, salt marshes and seagrass meadows– recognized jointly as “blue carbon”..

With these price quotes of blue-carbon sequestration and country-specific climate damages, we are then able to compute the wealth contribution and redistribution from blue carbon. This reflects the truth that carbon sequestration in one country decreases climate damages in other countries, and vice versa.

Neither the effects of worldwide warming nor the carbon sequestration in sinks are similarly dispersed throughout the world..

International map of typical yearly blue-carbon sequestration potentials by country. The shading indicates the size of the potential, from low (yellow) to high (dark blue), in billions of tonnes of carbon each year. Source: Bertram et al. (2021 ).

These estimates can then be summed up in a “net” position, which indicates whether a country supplies– in net terms– blue-carbon wealth to other nations or whether it receives– in net terms– blue-carbon wealth from others.

Net contribution.

The remainder of the Top 10 net “recipient” countries from blue-carbon wealth are revealed by the red and orange bars in the chart below. The green and blue bars indicate the Top 10 “donor” countries– after Australia comes Indonesia, Cuba and Russia.

It needs to be noted that our estimations and the example of Australia cover blue-carbon sequestration just..

Carbon “sinks”, such as forests or the ocean, play an important function in soaking up climatic CO2 and thus decreasing the damages triggered by climate change and the emissions that drive it..

Our findings reveal that Australia, Indonesia and Cuba contribute the largest blue-carbon net “wealth” to the remainder of the world. Only a handful of nations have enough blue carbon capacity to offset their entire carbon footprint.

However, Australia only sees a small part of this benefit as the reduction of climate damages is international. Using Australias CSCC (US$ 7.5 per tonne of CO2), we approximate its domestic contribution to blue-carbon wealth from prevented environment damages of US$ 291m per year.

Mangrove trees at low tide, Broome, Australia. Credit: Paul Mayall Australia / Alamy Stock Photo.

You can see these estimates in the map below, which reveals yearly carbon sequestration potential all over the world. The shading indicates the size of the potential, from low (yellow) to high (dark blue).

Such services provided by nature are an integral part of what is referred to as the “inclusive wealth framework”. Inclusive wealth is defined as the aggregate of all natural and human-made capital stocks, valued with their “shadow cost”– that is, the estimated monetary value that a commodity or service offers for societal well-being, rather than a market value.

Blue-carbon wealth.

Prices carbon.

Sharelines from this story.

The 10 largest donor (blue and green bars) and recipient (red and orange) countries of blue-carbon wealth. Wealth redistributions are calculated utilizing CSCC averaged throughout all circumstances.

These shadow rates are affected by factors such as the shortage of resources and the expectations about future management of human-made and natural capital stocks.

In addition, our study also stresses that CO2 storage is just a small part of positive impacts of seaside environments for humans. Coastal ecosystems are a vital component of marine communities and are, for that reason, especially important for marine biodiversity and for fisheries. At the very same time, they add to flood and coastal security and are, therefore, crucial for adaptation to environment modification.

Other sinks and emissions.

The coast of Australia– which includes about a quarter of the international salt marsh area, and 13% and 7% of worldwide seagrass and mangroves locations, respectively– has the largest seaside blue-carbon sequestration capacity (10.6 bn tonnes of carbon per year). This equates to a wealth contribution of US$ 25.0 bn– acquired by increasing their carbon sequestration with the international price quote for the SCC.

Including blue-carbon ecosystems and energy and industrial carbon emissions, only Guinea-Bissau, Belize, Vanuatu, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Guinea, Comoros, Samoa, Madagascar and Papua New Guinea have a positive web blue wealth outbound contribution, In other words, these are the only countries whose blue-carbon sequestration surpasses their emissions.

The staying advantages developing from blue-carbon sequestration in Australia take place abroad and amount to US$ 24.7 bn per year– approximated by multiplying Australias blue-carbon sequestration with the amount of CSCC of all other nations.

Our team has now determined blue-carbon sequestration potential at the national level. This process combines information on the areas covered by mangroves, salt marshes and seagrass meadows in each nations exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and average yearly carbon sequestration rates for each ecosystem type.

Overall, there is a global potential for 24.0 bn tonnes of carbon sequestration annually for mangroves, 13.4 bn tonnes for salt marshes and 43.9 bn tonnes for seagrasses. This offers a grand overall of 81.2 bn tonnes of carbon sequestration each year, which is broadly comparable to the annual emissions by France or Poland.

The rate signal on carbon markets depends upon the underlying aspiration of the policy target. This can be seen from the present cost rally in the European emission trading system in expectation of a more enthusiastic decrease target for 2030.

At the very same time, Australia likewise takes advantage of the carbon sequestration abroad, which we estimate at US$ 1.9 bn annually..

Climate modification decreases inclusive wealth and, for that reason, CO2 emissions resemble a “negative investment” into inclusive wealth..

Clearly, the outbound contribution surpasses the inbound invoice so that Australia provides a net outbound contribution to blue-carbon wealth of US$ 22.8 bn annually to the rest of the world.

Unlike a company getting involved in a market, carbon sinks do not respond to cost signals. Instead, their carbon uptake is identified by factors such as the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, eco-friendly procedures and feedbacks, and human intervention. The appropriate shadow rate to examine this negative financial investment is the “social expense of carbon” (SCC). The shading suggests the size of the capacity, from low (yellow) to high (dark blue), in billions of tonnes of carbon per year. Australia also experiences a negative contribution to wealth from net carbon emissions abroad of -US$ 254.5 bn.

Unlike a company participating in a market, carbon sinks do not respond to rate signals. Rather, their carbon uptake is determined by aspects such as the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, eco-friendly procedures and feedbacks, and human intervention. Still, this type of “service” minimizes climate damages and, therefore, has implications for wealth.

The SCC is a global measure, gotten from building up national damage quotes from the social cost of carbon of individual countries (CSCC). Recent research studies have integrated environment models and financial designs to approximate the CSCC for all countries on the planet.

Climate policy instruments, such as emissions trading plans, are planned to collaborate mitigation activities by providing a price signal for CO2 emissions. Companies can then compare the cost of CO2 with the cost of avoiding CO2 emissions to decide which emissions can be beneficially reduced.