By initiating a multitude of policy actions targeting carbon neutrality by 2060, China would be in a good position to take on leadership in promoting, developing, and utilizing the oceans in reaching the domestic and global carbon goals within a framework of sustainable and ecosystem-based ocean management. In this policy study, a number of priority actions have been identified that could support China’s future efforts to sustainably utilize the ocean’s potential as a contributor toward domestic and international carbon-neutrality goals.
Particularly, this policy study highlights the following recommendations:
Capture and storage of carbon dioxide by nature itself
We suggest that immediate actions should be taken, from local to national levels, seeking to avoid further marine habitat and coastal wetland destruction, and where possible, mitigate those losses: i) By 2030, restore degraded/destroyed coastal wetlands and protect critical marine habitats; ii) By 2030, invest in, and implement, a resilient network of marine protected areas (MPAs, including national parks, nature reserves and marine redlines), to protect largescale marine habitats that contribute significantly to carbon storage and marine biodiversity through Nature-based Solutions (NbS); and iii) Incorporate climate-smart management of these blue carbon ecosystems into China’s national GHG inventory following the approved IPCC guidelines and China’s NDCs, and explore collaborations with BRI-countries to facilitate similar measures through international collaboration.
Accounting for ocean carbon dioxide sinks in international climate reporting
We call for the establishment of an international task force with a mandate to promote the ocean carbon sink as a potential NDC and as part of UNFCCC deliberations.
Closing the knowledge gaps
We recommend that a structured and strategic framing for a comprehensive and international collaborative research effort that integrates basic research, policy development, and technology innovation is established, with a clear focus on new knowledge most needed to
reduce uncertainty and leverage safe and high-value carbon sequestration approaches. Furthermore, it is recommended that a collaborative effort is initiated to collate and dedicate resources to effectuate research efforts within such a strategic framing.
Accelerating research on carbon dioxide removal
We advise the establishment of policy and financial frameworks for accelerating research for scalable ocean-based carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and offshore carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS).
Developing green marine industry
We recommend aiming for more ambitious goals, including within the International Maritime Organization (IMO), toward dedicated efforts to accelerate the low-carbon transformation and upgrading of the marine industry and stimulate scientific and technological research and
development of clean fuels, including establishing “green corridors” between ports to accommodate the use of renewable fuels for the deep-sea fleet.
Developing climate-smart ports
We recommend that transportation systems of large coastal cities and the shipping sector should be decarbonized through scaling up of offshore wind production and promoting hydrogen and ammonia production as quickly as possible.
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