Celebrating World Oceans Day: Diving Into Ocean-Based Carbon Removal

This year’s World Oceans Day presents an opportunity to reflect on the fact that we live on a blue planet, and the notion that perhaps it is there, within the Earth’s waters, where tremendous hope to scale carbon removal lies. Below we highlight quotes from innovators leading the way on ocean-based carbon dioxide removal, also referred to as marine carbon dioxide removal or “mCDR” for short. We invite you to read about how companies are approaching responsible research and field trials for carbon removal. Thanks to Brilliant Planet, Captura, Ebb Carbon, Oceanid MRV, Pull To Refresh, SeafieldsSeaweed Generation, and Running Tide for sharing their stories on World Oceans Day. Happy World Oceans Day!

Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by the ocean, making it the largest carbon sink and the largest exchangeable carbon reservoir on the planet. Our ability to do the simplest things like breathe in oxygen is due to the abundance of microorganisms that call it home. While greenhouse gas pollution hits record highs, more and more climate experts and advocates are thinking about how to best leverage the blue parts of our planet to remove excess carbon in our atmosphere and restore balance to our fragile planet.

When it comes to how the oceans have adapted to climate change, the United Nations estimates that they captured 90% of the excess heat generated by carbon dioxide emissions and have experienced a 30% increase in acidity. This is overwhelmingly apparent when one looks at the repetitive coral bleaching events, ocean dead zones due to eutrophication, and even heat waves or massive warming events that have occurred. While the oceans have faced the brunt of human-caused climate change, there is research showing that it could be a place where gigatonne-scale carbon removal will be possible. Scaling ocean-based carbon removal techniques can not only help rebalance the carbon cycle but also restore ocean health by decreasing acidification. Interested in learning more about mCDR pathways? Ocean Visions has helpful resources with more info.

Brilliant Planet 
“Marine microalgae turned the ocean blue, made our atmosphere, and feed five times more animals than there are on land, fixing as much carbon as all land-plants combined to make our brilliant planet. Let’s work together to help them to rebalance our planet again.” – Raffael Jovine, Chief Scientist, Brilliant Planet

“Our planet’s oceans are an integral part of the global carbon cycle that builds and powers life all around the world. They continuously draw down anthropogenic CO2 emissions from the atmosphere, playing a major role in mitigating the effects of climate change. However, this comes at the cost of ocean acidification, which threatens marine life and its ecosystems. What if we could safely harness the carbon removal powers of our oceans to provide a tool that helps to address climate change and ocean acidification? Captura is developing a Direct Ocean Capture system that aims to do exactly that. The Captura technology uses just renewable energy and ocean water as inputs to remove CO2 from oceans, effectively making ‘more room’ for them to draw down additional CO2 from the atmosphere. When placed in enclosed areas, the Captura technology also has applications in localized ocean deacidification. Captura is making waves in the carbon removal technology industry by offering a safe, affordable and scalable solution for the climate change mitigation toolbox to help unlock a viable path towards Net Zero.” – Maya Kashapov, Business Development, Captura

Ebb Carbon
“The ocean is the unsung hero of climate change. Studies show that the ocean has absorbed about 30% of all CO2 that has been pumped into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution. But, rising levels of CO2 in the air are changing our climate and making our ocean more acidic—putting marine life and coastal communities at risk. Ebb Carbon is working on solving two climate-related problems, global warming and ocean acidification, with one technology. We use electrochemistry to accelerate the ocean’s natural ability to capture and store carbon while reducing ocean acidity.” – Ben Tarbell, CEO, Ebb Carbon

Oceanid MRV
“As we search for solutions that can work at massive, multi-gigaton scale to restore the climate, we look to the oceans. When we do, we can see within that vast, blue expanse the pathways, resources, and natural processes we will use to pull billions of tons of carbon from the air and combat climate change. CDR in the ocean has enormous potential and also faces significant challenges. One of the biggest challenges is quantifying, monitoring, and verifying ocean CDR activities. Oceanid MRV is one of the companies working to address this problem. Working with partners and researchers, Oceanid MRV is developing the rulebooks we’ll be using to responsibly deploy olivine sand barrier reefs, enable community kelp-to-biochar initiatives, and develop ocean CDR projects around the world.” – Ben Swainbank, Founder, OceanAid MRV

Pull To Refresh
“At Pull To Refresh, our unmanned solar-powered vessels enable the transportation of captured carbon dioxide in the form of seaweed to depths greater than 3 km. Through modeling of chemical, biological, and physical forces, we ensure the enduring removal of carbon from the atmosphere by leveraging the innate capabilities of the ocean.” – Arin Crumley, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Pull to Refresh

“The world needs to decarbonise quickly to limit the effects of climate change becoming irreversible. In parallel, we need to build up sustainable CDR projects to remove both unavoidable, residual emissions and the legacy CO2 emissions from the last 150 years. At Seafields we are on a mission to remove carbon at the gigatonne scale through open-ocean aquafarming of the free-floating seaweed Sargassum. The vastness of the open ocean will enable us to reach the gigatonne scale and, at the same time, take pressure off land and coastal ecosystems. The harvested seaweed will be processed, turned into useful products and the remaining carbon-rich biomass will be deposited on the deep-sea floor, to lock away the removed atmospheric CO2 for centuries.” – John Auckland, Co-Founder and CEO, Seafields

Seaweed Generation
“Our ocean is already largely responsible for our atmospheric balance, containing 93% of the carbon on Earth. For CDR to be truly scalable, we must focus on pathways that enhance this existing system. At Seaweed Generation, our mission is to unlock the potential of ocean carbon. We build automated robotics to harness the carbon absorption power of seaweed, the carbon storage capacity of the ocean, and harvest essential data for MMRV (Measuring, Monitoring, Reporting and Verification) from the surface to the darkest depths of the ocean.” – Paddy Estridge, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Seaweed Generation

Running Tide
“The ocean is the center of our climate system, and there is no path to effectively combating climate change without taking positive steps to restore and protect the ocean. Conducted responsibly, ocean-based carbon removal can accelerate decarbonization while providing the foundation for negative carbon economic growth and sustainable livelihoods for the coastal communities most impacted by climatic shifts.” -Brad Rochlin, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Running Tide

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