Carbon offset warning from international team of scientists

Jan 10, 2008

Leading marine scientists from across the world have issued a warning that it is too early to sell carbon offsets from ocean iron fertilisation.

Published on Friday in the journal Science, signatories include scientists from the US, Japan, Hawaii, New Zealand, The Netherlands, India, Germany and the UK. The UK is represented by Prof Andrew Watson of the University of East Anglia and Dr Richard Lampitt of Southampton University’s National Oceanography Centre.

Prof Watson said: “While we do envision the possibility of iron fertilisation as an effective form of carbon offsetting, we believe larger scale experiments are needed to assess the efficiency of this method and to address possible side effects.

“There remain many unknowns and potential negative impacts.”

Ocean iron fertilisation (OIF) is one of several marine-based methods proposed for mitigating rising atmospheric CO2. Research since 1993 has shown that releasing iron onto the ocean surface can stimulate the growth of plankton.

However, the efficiency with which OIF sequesters carbon from the atmosphere and retains it in the deep ocean is still uncertain and unintended ecological impacts are not yet fully understood.

Despite the scientific uncertainties, private companies are currently planning larger-scale iron releases to generate the sale of carbon credits.

The joint letter concludes: “This group feels it is premature to sell carbon offsets from the first generation of commercial-scale OIF experiments unless there is better demonstration that OIF effectively removes CO2, retains that carbon in the ocean for a quantifiable amount of time, and has acceptable and predictable environmental impacts.”

Source: University of East Anglia

Explore further: Rolling lab tracks methane to its source

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

New challenges for ocean acidification research

13 hours ago

Over the past decade, ocean acidification has received growing recognition not only in the scientific area. Decision-makers, stakeholders, and the general public are becoming increasingly aware of "the other carbon dioxide ...

Compromises lead to climate change deal

13 hours ago

Earlier this month, delegates from the various states that make up the UN met in Lima, Peru, to agree on a framework for the Climate Change Conference that is scheduled to take place in Paris next year. For ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

DrPhysics
not rated yet Jan 18, 2008
Carbon off-sets ......... lunacy. Sure, let's add a new 'element' to the oceans and not worry about its long-term effects. Remember old tires to stimulate ocean life? Now the truth comes out about potential pollution. Where do these people think up these lame-brain ideas?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.