What Are Blue Carbon Offsets and How Do They Work: The Big Picture

What Are Blue Carbon Offsets and How Do They Work: The Big Picture

By
Grace Smoot

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Protecting blue carbon ecosystems (e.g., mangroves, seagrasses, tidal marshes) is one of the most powerful ways you can help preserve the environment and combat global climate change. Their carbon absorption abilities and ecosystem services provided make them a key piece in solving the climate crisis. So, we had to ask: What are blue carbon offsets really, and could they help us mitigate climate change?

Blue carbon offsets are a specific type of carbon offset that preserve coastal marine carbon sinks (e.g., mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes). Blue carbon projects reduce CO2 emissions via marine re- and afforestation and protect and strengthen our coastal ecosystems.

Keep reading to find out all about what blue carbon offsets are, how they work, what their project life-cycle is, how effective they are, their pros and cons, and how they can help mitigate climate change. 

The Big Picture of Blue Carbon Offsets

Carbon offsets are reductions in carbon emissions that are used to compensate for carbon emissions occurring elsewhere. They are measured in tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents and are bought and sold through international brokers, online retailers, and trading platforms on what is known as the global carbon offset market. 

Carbon Offset: a way for a company or person to reduce the level of carbon dioxide for which they are responsible by paying money to a company that works to reduce the total amount produced in the world, for example by reforestation”

Oxford Dictionary

Blue carbon offsets are a specific type of carbon offset that focuses on the preservation of coastal and marine ecosystems. Blue carbon is the carbon that is stored in coastal and marine ecosystems (e.g., mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes). 

Blue Carbon: the term for carbon captured by the world’s ocean and coastal ecosystems.”

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

There are over 120 million acres of blue carbon ecosystems worldwide that provide habitat for species, support food security, sustain coastal communities, and protect our coastlines. Mangroves are found in the intertidal zone of tropical and subtropical shores, seagrasses are found in coastal waters, and salt marshes are found mostly in temperate zones. 

Blue carbon is one example of biological carbon sequestration, or the storage of carbon in vegetation (forests), soils, and oceans, which are commonly referred to as our carbon sinks. Blue carbon offsets focus on preserving mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes, which constitute one of our largest carbon sinks yet are being degraded at 4x the rate of tropical forests

How are carbon offsets definedReductions in GHG emissions that are used to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere.
What are blue carbon offsetsBlue carbon offsets are a specific type of carbon offset that focuses on the preservation of coastal and marine ecosystems (i.e., mangroves, seagrass beds, and tidal marshes).
How do blue projects offset CO2 emissionsBlue carbon projects reduce CO2 emissions by increasing the number of mangrove trees on the planet and by protecting seagrass beds and tidal marsh areas, all of which absorb CO2 as they grow and mature.
When do blue projects offset CO2 emissionsCarbon emission reductions are delayed when you plant new mangrove trees because you have to wait for the trees to reach maturity before they can begin to reduce carbon emissions. But protecting existing seagrass beds and tidal marsh areas would reduce CO2 immediately.
What is the project life-cycle of blue carbon offsetsBuilding: The building of blue carbon offsets includes identifying areas in need of marine reforestation and protection.
Operating: The operating and maintenance of blue carbon offsets includes any measures taken after planting mangrove trees to keep the reforested lands alive and thriving as well as protecting existing seagrass beds and tidal marshes. 
End-of-life: The end-of-life of blue carbon offsets would include anything that puts these ecosystems at risk of being deforested or degraded, which hopefully would never occur.
How effective and efficient are blue carbon offsetsEffectiveness: Blue carbon offsets reinforce our marine carbon sink and can continue to avoid carbon emissions after their project life span; however, they also often lack permanence and large-scale funding. They also do not reduce your own carbon emissions, which can lead to greenwashing
Efficiency: Blue carbon offsets are efficient at carbon sequestration and storage and are relatively cost-effective; however, they often lack a standardized methodology.
What are the best blue carbon offsetsThe best blue carbon offsets are offered by The Ocean Foundation, SeaTrees, and One Tree Planted, which protect seagrasses, watersheds, and mangrove communities. In addition, Reforest’Action plants mangrove forests in Sumatra and South Pole restores Indonesian peat swamp forests.

What Are Blue Carbon Offsets

Carbon offsets are reductions in GHG emissions that are used to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere. They are measured in tons of CO2 equivalents and are bought and sold through international brokers, online retailers, and trading platforms.

Blue carbon offsets are a specific type of carbon offset that focuses on the preservation of coastal and marine ecosystems (i.e. mangroves, seagrass beds, and tidal marshes).

How Are Carbon Offsets Defined

Carbon offsets play a crucial role in reducing our carbon footprint, the amount of CO2 emissions associated with an individual or an entity. 

Carbon footprint: the amount of greenhouse gasses and specifically carbon dioxide emitted by something (such as a person’s activities or a product’s manufacture and transport) during a given period

Merriam Webster

Basically, a carbon footprint is the amount of carbon emitted by an activity or an organization. This includes GHG emissions from fuel that we burn directly (e.g., heating a home, driving a car) and GHG emissions from manufacturing the products that we use (e.g., power plants, factories, and landfills). 

One way to reduce our carbon footprint is via the use of carbon offsets. These are reductions in GHG emissions that are measured in tons of CO2 equivalents and are bought and sold through international brokers, online retailers, and trading platforms. 

Carbon offset: a way for a company or person to reduce the level of carbon dioxide for which they are responsible by paying money to a company that works to reduce the total amount produced in the world, for example by planting trees”

Oxford Dictionary

When you hear the words “carbon offset”, think about the term “compensation”. Essentially, carbon offsets are reductions in GHG emissions that are used to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere. Carbon offsets can range anywhere from a couple of hundred tons of CO2 per program per year to thousands of tons of CO2 per program per year. 

How Are Blue Carbon Offsets Defined

Blue carbon is the carbon that is stored in coastal and marine ecosystems (e.g., mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes). 

Blue Carbon: the term for carbon captured by the world’s ocean and coastal ecosystems.”

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Blue carbon offsets are a specific type of carbon offset that focuses on the preservation of coastal and marine ecosystems. There are over 120 million acres of blue carbon ecosystems worldwide that provide habitat for species, support food security, sustain coastal communities, and protect our coastlines. 

How Do Blue Carbon Offsets Work

Blue carbon offsets fund projects that reduce CO2 emissions by increasing the number of mangrove trees on the planet and protecting them, seagrass beds, and tidal marsh areas from further degradation. These ecosystems absorb CO2 as they grow and mature, which bolsters our marine carbon sink and allows for increased atmospheric CO2 absorption.

How and When Do Blue Carbon Offsets Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Blue carbon has been shown to be increasingly important in large-scale CO2 absorption, and is one of the most meaningful ways you can help preserve the environment and combat global climate change. These marine ecosystems not only act as one of our largest carbon sinks, but they also provide numerous benefits in addition to climate change mitigation.

How Do Blue Carbon Offsets Reduce CO2 Emissions

Blue carbon offsets focus on preserving mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes, which constitute one of our largest carbon sinks yet are being degraded at 4x the rate of tropical forests

Blue carbon projects reduce CO2 emissions by increasing the number of mangrove trees on the planet and by protecting seagrass beds and tidal marsh areas, all of which absorb CO2 as they grow and mature.

If undisturbed, blue carbon ecosystems can absorb enough carbon to keep pace with moderate sea level rise. These ecosystems can also sequester carbon at higher rates per unit area than terrestrial ecosystems. 

  • Mangroves and salt marshes can absorb 3-5x more carbon per acre (ac) than tropical forests at a rate 10 times greater.
  • Seagrass meadows store 11% of the ocean’s buried carbon despite only accounting for only 0.1% of the world’s seafloor. 

When Do Blue Carbon Offsets Reduce CO2 Emissions

Carbon emission reductions are delayed when you plant new mangrove trees because you have to wait for the trees to reach maturity before they can begin to reduce carbon emissions. Mangroves take approximately 10-20 years to mature, which means we must wait decades after planting the tree to begin to reap most of the environmental benefits. 

Creating new mangrove forests is also more time intensive than protecting existing forests because finding suitable land and physically planting the trees to create a new forest takes time. Also, there is always the risk of, e.g., droughts, wildfires, tree diseases, and deforestation wiping out newly planted trees, negating any carbon reduction benefits. 

On the other hand, protecting existing seagrass beds and tidal marsh areas would reduce CO2 immediately, because you don’t have the delay that comes with planting new vegetation.

What Could Prevent Blue Carbon Offsets From Being Realized

Blue carbon offsets often lack permanence, a standardized methodology, and large-scale funding. This could prevent blue carbon offsets from being realized.

Nature-based solutions, such as blue carbon, often lack permanence, and climate change is one of the leading factors that can negate blue carbon permanence. Coastal ecosystems are especially sensitive to sea level rise, storm intensity, rising ocean temperatures, and ocean acidification. As a result, blue carbon ecosystems are currently being degraded at 4 times the rate of tropical forests, and we are currently losing mangroves, seagrasses, and tidal marshes at a rate of 2%, 1.5%, and 1-2% per year, respectively.

There is also no overarching mechanism to regulate the carbon stored in coastal, marine, or wetland soils and biomass. Leading standards (i.e. Verra, Gold Standard, American Carbon Registry) all have different methodologies for assessing blue carbon. This has led to a lack of certified projects available on the voluntary carbon offset market (VCM).

Lastly, although they are capable of providing 1/3 of the total emissions reductions needed to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, blue carbon ecosystems only receive 3% of total climate investments globally. Blue carbon projects are also typically located in underdeveloped countries, in remote locations, and in locations difficult to traverse through, which makes carbon credit certification for these projects difficult and sometimes costly.

The Gulf of Morrosquillo: An Example Project of Blue Carbon Offsets

Established in 2021, the Blue Carbon Project Gulf of Morrosquillo is the first blue carbon project registered under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). It protects 7,561 ha (18,683 ac) of the coastal mangrove ecosystems, marshes, and associated streams in Colombia. It also strengthens local governments, protects endangered species (i.e., manatee, needle caiman), creates jobs, and introduces sustainable food sources. 

The project was developed by Conservation International in conjunction with South Pole using Verra methodology that was revised in 2020 to include tidal wetland conservation and restoration activities. It is certified by the VCS, CCBA, and REDD+.

At the end of the 30-year project lifespan, the Blue Carbon Project Gulf of Morrosquillo will have sequestered approximately 1 million tons of CO2

What Is the Project Life-Cycle of Blue Carbon Offsets

To fully understand blue carbon offsets, we must assess each stage of its life cycle. This life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a method to evaluate the environmental impacts of products and materials. Over the years, companies have strategically used LCA to research and create more sustainable products. So, we had a look at the LCA for blue carbon offsets! 

Building of Blue Carbon Offsets

The building of blue carbon offsets includes identifying areas in need of marine reforestation and protection.

Blue carbon ecosystems are found along the coasts of every continent except Antarctica, and we are currently losing between 340 and 980 thousand hectares of them every year. The blue carbon ecosystems most in need of protection are areas with high concentrations of these ecosystems that have previously been or currently are being deforested or degraded. 

For example, leading blue carbon offsets (e.g., One Tree Planted, Reforest’Action, South Pole, Sustainable Travel International, and Ecologi) focus on the highly threatened areas of Sumatra, Indonesia, Madagascar, and Mozambique. And in terms of identifying areas with high concentrations of blue carbon ecosystems, the Australian coast contains approximately 7% of the world’s mangrove areas, 13% of the world’s seagrass areas, and 25% of the world’s salt marsh areas. With a 10.6 million ton per year carbon sequestration potential, Australia is an important blue carbon area in need of protection

While identifying these areas in need is the first step, physically planting trees and protecting these ecosystems is the second step. Leading blue carbon offsets (e.g., The Ocean Foundation, One Tree Planted, and Reforest’Action) have planting partners that help them plant mangroves and seagrass beds around the globe. Transporting trees to specific planting locations is also one aspect of this stage with a carbon footprint. 

Operating and Maintaining of Blue Carbon Offsets

The operating and maintaining of blue carbon offsets includes any measures taken after planting mangrove trees to keep the reforested lands alive and thriving as well as protecting existing seagrass beds and tidal marshes. 

In order for blue carbon projects to be successful, there must be measures in place to ensure permanence. The leading reforestation offsets (e.g., The Ocean Foundation, One Tree Planted, and Reforest’Action) are effective at reducing carbon emissions because they monitor mangrove trees that have been planted to ensure they are not destroyed and are verified by third parties. 

The operating/maintaining stage is also where the offsetting promised by blue carbon projects occurs. Mangrove trees, seagrasses, and tidal marshes absorb CO2 as they grow and incorporate it into their trunks, branches, roots, and the surrounding soil. They can permanently store carbon in soils at depths of up to 6 meters for up to 1,000 years. Guaranteeing permanence also guarantees carbon absorption for many years to come. 

End-of-Life of Blue Carbon Offsets

The end-of-life of blue carbon offsets would include anything that puts these ecosystems at risk of being deforested or degraded, which hopefully would never occur.

Once a mangrove tree is planted, it should never be removed in order to guarantee permanence. However, nature-based solutions, such as blue carbon, still lack permanence. 

Blue carbon ecosystems are currently being degraded at 4 times the rate of tropical forests. We are currently losing mangroves, seagrasses, and tidal marshes at a rate of 2%, 1.5%, and 1-2% per year, respectively.

Climate change is one of the leading factors that can negate blue carbon permanence. Coastal ecosystems are especially sensitive to sea level rise, storm intensity, and rising ocean temperatures, all of which have been occurring at an accelerated rate. Ocean acidification, a result of warming ocean temperatures, particularly threatens these ecosystems and the biodiversity they harbor.

How Effective and Efficient Are Blue Carbon Offsets

In terms of effectiveness, blue carbon offsets reinforce our marine carbon sink and can continue to avoid CO2 emissions after project durations. However, they also often lack permanence and large-scale funding, and they do not reduce your own carbon emissions.

In terms of efficiency, blue carbon offsets are efficient at carbon sequestration and storage and are relatively cost-effective. However, they also lack a standardized methodology.

Blue carbon offsets are effective at mitigating climate change because they:

  • Reinforce our marine carbon sink, which absorbs roughly 25% of the carbon we emit every year
  • Can continue to avoid CO2 emissions after their project life span, so long as they are not deforested prematurely

However, blue carbon offsets can also lack effectiveness because they:

Blue carbon offsets are efficient at reducing CO2 emissions because they:

However, blue carbon offsets can also lack efficiency because there is no overarching mechanism to regulate the carbon stored in coastal, marine, or wetland soils and biomass. Leading standards all have different methodologies for assessing blue carbon. 

Blue carbon offsets also do not reduce your own carbon emissions, which can lead to greenwashing. This occurs when emissions are only offset and not reduced from the source, and the consumer is deceived into thinking they are offsetting their emissions but in reality, they are not. This is why we should first reduce our emissions before relying on offsets.

Related: Are you interested in learning more about how effective and efficient blue carbon offsets are? Check out the full article here: “How Effective and Efficient Are Blue Carbon Offsets? Here Are the Facts

How Could you Offset Your Own Carbon Footprint With Blue Carbon Offsets

The market for carbon offsets was small in the year 2000, but by 2010 it had already grown to represent nearly $10 billion worldwide. The voluntary carbon offset market (VCM) is where everyday consumers can purchase carbon offsets to offset their carbon emissions. 

The Ecosystem Marketplace predicts the VCM can grow to $50B by the year 2050. And because blue carbon offsets protect one of our largest carbon sinks, they are predicted to make up an increasingly larger share of this market.

Related: Are you interested in learning more about the best blue carbon offsets? Check out the full article here: “Best Blue Carbon Offsets (Complete 2024 List)
Blue Carbon Offset CompanyQuick Facts
The Ocean FoundationAbout: Carbon offset purchases support the SeaGrass Grow, seagrass planting project.
Costs: $20 per 1,000kg of CO2
SeaTreesAbout: Carbon offset purchases support coral reef/kelp forest/watershed restoration as well as mangrove tree planting.
Costs: $22 per 1,000kg of CO2
One Tree PlantedAbout: Carbon offset purchases support their mangrove planting blue carbon project, which plants mangrove trees in Costa Rica, the Philippines, India, Haiti, and Guatemala.
Costs: $20 per 1,000kg of CO2
Reforest’ActionAbout: Carbon offset purchases support the mangrove restoration projects in Sumatra.
Costs: Approx. $20 per 1,000kg of CO2
South PoleAbout: Carbon offset purchases support the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Preserve project on the island of Borneo in Indonesia. The project protects over 200 thousand acres of tropical peat swamp.
Costs: $21.55 per 1,000kg of CO2
Sustainable Travel InternationalAbout: Carbon offset purchases support the Katingan Mentaya Blue Carbon Project. This project protects and restores 370,000+ acres of peat swamp forest in Borneo.
Costs: $16 per 1,000kg of CO2
Restore the Earth FoundationAbout: Carbon offset purchases support wetland reforestation in the Lower Mississippi River Basin, also known as the North American Amazon.
Costs: Costs are determined after initial contact
EcologiAbout: Carbon offset purchases support two coastal mangrove planting projects in Madagascar and one in Mozambique.
Costs: $6.04 per 1,000kg of CO2
The Carbon Offset CompanyAbout: Carbon offset purchases support their mangrove reforestation blue carbon project located in Casa Partida, Mozambique.
Costs: Costs are determined after initial contact
myclimateAbout: Carbon offset purchases support the Blue Forests for Coral Reef Protection project, which protects over 2,400 acres of mangrove forests in Madagascar.
Costs: $23-$30 per 1,000kg of CO2

How Can Blue Carbon Offsets Help Mitigate Climate Change

Climate change is a severe and long-term consequence of fossil fuel combustion. Blue carbon offsets can help mitigate climate change because they protect our coastal marine ecosystems. The healthier they are, the more CO2 they can absorb from our atmosphere. Atmospheric carbon can, if left untreated, remain there for tens of thousands of years and exacerbate the negative effects of climate change.

How is Climate Change Defined

Climate change is arguably the most severe, long-term global impact of fossil fuel combustion. Every year, approximately 33 billion tons (bt) of CO2 are emitted from burning fossil fuels. The carbon found in fossil fuels reacts with oxygen in the air to produce CO2

Climate change: changes in the earth’s weather, including changes in temperature, wind patterns and rainfall, especially the increase in the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere that is caused by the increase of particular gasses, especially carbon dioxide.

Oxford Dictionary

Atmospheric CO2 fuels climate change, which results in global warming. When CO2 and other air pollutants absorb sunlight and solar radiation in the atmosphere, it traps the heat and acts as an insulator for the planet. Since the Industrial Revolution, Earth’s temperature has risen a little more than 1 degree Celsius (C), or 2 degrees Fahrenheit (F). Between 1880-1980 the global temperature rose by 0.07C every 10 years. This rate has more than doubled since 1981, with a current global annual temperature rise of 0.18C, or 0.32F, for every 10 years. 

As outlined in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, we must cut current GHG emissions by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050

How Do Carbon Offsets Generally Help Mitigate Climate Change

Levels of carbon in our atmosphere that cause climate change have increased as a result of human emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in 1750. The global average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today registers at over 400 parts per million. Carbon offsets can help prevent these levels from increasing even more.

When you hear the words “carbon offset”, think about the term “compensation”. Essentially, carbon offsets are reductions in GHG emissions that are used to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere

Carbon offsets that meet key criteria and verified project standards, are additional and permanent, and are part of projects that are carried out until the end of their lifespan have the best chance of reducing carbon emissions and therefore reducing climate change. 

When we offset CO2 we also slow the rate of global temperature rise, which in turn minimizes the effects of climate change. 

How Do Blue Carbon Offsets Specifically Help Mitigate Climate Change

Blue carbon offsets specifically help mitigate climate change because they protect coastal and marine ecosystems, which are capable of absorbing more CO2 per acre than rainforests and at a rate 10x greater. The more we reinforce these ecosystems, the more we enable them to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in biomass and soils for long periods of time.

What Are The 6 Pros and 4 Cons of Blue Carbon Offsets

Blue carbon offsets reinforce our marine carbon sinks, can continue to avoid CO2 emissions after project durations, preserve biodiversity, help maintain water quality, are relatively cost-effective, and allow us to reduce carbon emissions in ways we wouldn’t be able to accomplish individually.

Blue carbon offsets often lack permanence, a standardized methodology, and large-scale funding, and they do not reduce your own carbon emissions.

Related: Are you interested in learning more about the pros and cons of blue carbon offsets? Check out the full article here: “Blue Carbon Offsets: All 6 Pros and 4 Cons Explained

What Are the 6 Pros of Blue Carbon Offsets

Blue carbon offsets have various pros that make them effective at absorbing carbon from our atmosphere.

6 Pros of Blue Carbon OffsetsQuick Facts
#1: Blue carbon offsets reinforce our marine carbon sinkBlue carbon ecosystems can permanently store carbon at depths of up to 6 meters for up to 1,000 years. They can also sequester carbon at higher rates per unit area than terrestrial ecosystems, making them an important carbon sink.
#2: Blue carbon offsets can continue to avoid CO2 emissions after their project life spanBlue carbon projects can continue to reduce carbon emissions long after mangroves have been planted, so long as they are not deforested, because trees can continue absorbing carbon long after they mature.
#3: Blue carbon offsets preserve biodiversityBlue carbon offsets promote biodiversity because they support aquatic wildlife by providing habitat and helping to keep our waterways healthy. A number of birds, fish, invertebrates, mammals, and plants rely on mangroves, seagrass, and salt marshes for habitats. 
#4: Blue carbon offsets help maintain water qualityAll trees capture, store, and use rainfall which aids in maintaining water quality and regulating the natural water cycle. More specifically, blue carbon ecosystems play an important role in regulating water quality because they act as giant water filters. 
#5: Blue carbon offsets are cost-effectiveBlue carbon offsets themselves are typically more cost-effective than other categories of carbon offsets. For example, blue carbon offsets from leading providers (i.e., The Ocean Foundation, One Tree Planted, Reforest’Action, and South Pole) cost less than $30 per ton of CO2 offset.
#6: Blue carbon offsets allow us to reduce carbon emissions in ways we wouldn’t be able to accomplish individuallyBlue carbon offsets allow us to reduce emissions from activities where sustainable alternatives are not yet widely available. 

What Are the 4 Cons of Blue Carbon Offsets

Understanding the drawbacks of blue carbon offsets is important when implementing this strategy on a large scale in order to mitigate climate change.

4 Cons of Blue Carbon OffsetsQuick Facts
#1: Blue carbon offsets often lack permanenceNature-based solutions, such as blue carbon, lack permanence. Blue carbon ecosystems are currently being degraded at 4 times the rate of tropical forests. Climate change is one of the leading factors that can negate blue carbon permanence. 
#2: Blue carbon offsets lack a standardized methodologyThe storage of carbon in terrestrial ecosystems is well documented and managed via the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) mechanism. However, there is no overarching mechanism to regulate the carbon stored in coastal, marine, or wetland soils and biomass.
#3: Blue carbon offsets lack large-scale fundingAlthough they are capable of providing 1/3 of the total emissions reductions needed to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, blue carbon ecosystems only receive 3% of total climate investments globally.
#4: Blue carbon offsets do not reduce your own carbon emissions, which can lead to greenwashingIf emissions are only offset and not reduced from the source, this could lead to greenwashing, when the consumer is deceived into thinking they are offsetting their emissions but in reality, they are not. 

What Are Better Alternatives to Blue Carbon Offsets

If used correctly, blue carbon offsets can provide environmental, economic, and social benefits beyond reducing carbon emissions. They have the potential to instigate meaningful environmental change and begin to reverse some of the effects of climate change. 

However, we can’t let this method be a guilt-free way to reduce carbon emissions. Alone, blue carbon offsets will not be enough to outpace the negative effects of global warming. They must instead be used in conjunction with direct carbon reduction measures.

These reduction measures don’t have to involve drastic changes either. Actions that may seem small can have a big impact because those small changes add up! You can reduce your carbon footprint in three main areas of your life: household, travel, and lifestyle. 

Reduce your household carbon footprint:

Reduce your travel carbon footprint:

  • Walk or bike when possible: The most efficient ways of traveling are walking, bicycling, or taking the train. Using a bike instead of a car can reduce carbon emissions by 75%. These forms of transportation also provide lower levels of air pollution.

Reduce your lifestyle carbon footprint:

  • Switch to renewable energy sources: The six most common types of renewable energy are solar, wind, hydro, tidal, geothermal, and biomass energy. They are a substitute for fossil fuels that can reduce the effects of global warming by limiting global carbon emissions and other pollutants.
  • Recycle: Recycling uses less energy and deposits less waste in landfills. Less manufacturing and transportation energy costs means fewer carbon emissions generated. Less waste in landfills means less CH4 is generated.
  • Eat less meat and dairy: Meat and dairy account for 14.5% of global GHG emissions, with beef and lamb being the most carbon-intensive. Globally, we consume much more meat than is considered sustainable, and switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet could reduce emissions. 
  • Take shorter showers: Approximately 1.2 trillion gallons of water are used each year in the United States just for showering purposes, and showering takes up about 17% of residential water usage. The amount of water consumed and the energy cost of that consumption are directly related. The less water we use the less energy we use. And the less energy we use, the less of a negative impact we have on the environment.

Because blue carbon offsets are an indirect way and not a direct way of reducing carbon emissions, they alone will not be enough to reduce global carbon emissions significantly. Direct measures of emission reductions, such as reducing individual energy use and consumption, are better alternatives to blue carbon offsets. 

Related: Are you interested in learning why reducing your carbon footprint is so important? Check it out in this article here: “4 Main Reasons Why Reducing Your Carbon Footprint Is Important

Final Thoughts

Blue carbon offsets are a specific type of carbon offset that can help mitigate climate change because they protect our coastal marine ecosystems. Mangroves, seagrass beds, and tidal marshes are capable of absorbing more CO2 at higher rates than terrestrial ecosystems. They also provide key ecosystem services including habitat, food, water filtration, and protection from coastal erosion. Although they are capable of providing CO2 emission reductions in line with keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, they currently lack the large-scale funding necessary.

Although blue carbon offsets can instigate meaningful change, they should not be seen as the only solution to climate change. They are effective at reducing CO2 in the short term, but in the long term, they fail to reduce CO2 enough. Blue carbon offsets also do not reduce your own carbon emissions, which can lead to greenwashing.

When used in conjunction with direct CO2 reduction measures, carbon offsetting can be much more effective. We should reduce our own carbon footprint as much as possible first, and only then choose the most effective blue carbon offsets.

Stay impactful,

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