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Storing carbon dioxide under the sea – a climate change solution?


Ostend, Belgium – European countries meeting here at an international maritime treaty meeting have agreed to allow greenhouse gases to be buried beneath the north-east Atlantic Ocean as a way to cut CO2 emissions, a major contributing factor to global warming.

WWF welcomes the amendment made to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, or OSPAR Convention, to enable carbon capture and storage in the sub-seabed geological formations of the north-east Atlantic.

“We believe that carbon capture and storage, if properly regulated, could be an important weapon in the battle against climate change,” said Stephan Lutter with WWF’s North-East Atlantic Marine Ecoregion Programme.

“This could help to keep global warming below 2ºC and help cut global CO2 emissions by more than 50 per cent by mid-century.”

According to scientists, increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are affecting ocean chemistry — half the CO2 released since the industrial revolution has been absorbed into the sea and has resulted in the formation of carbonic acid. It is predicted that the seas will become more acidic this century than at any time in the past 20 million years.

Corals around the UK and in warmer tropical waters are especially vulnerable, as are many plankton communities, which form the basis of the food chain.

“The impacts to the marine environment from carbon capture and storage will be less than those of climate change and ocean acidification,” added Lutter.

“Nonetheless, strict environmental regulation control and monitoring is necessary. There must be internationally agreed procedures for independent verification and monitoring of storage and related activities before such technologies count against greenhouse gas reduction targets.”


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