Maximizing Ocean-Based Pathways to a Low-Carbon Economy
The ocean has immense potential to help reduce overall societal carbon emissions by replacing the carbon-intensive goods and services that society needs with low-carbon alternatives.
Most notably, the ocean can provide low-carbon energy, low-carbon food, and low-carbon transportation. Fully developing these sectors and other ocean-based alternatives are essential to help the world meet its critical targets for decarbonizing the global economy.
Ocean-based renewable energy, most notably including offshore wind, is already a rapidly growing sector that provides a reliable and sustainable source of electricity with far lower greenhouse gas emissions than coal or natural gas. Developing wind and other marine renewable energy sources to their full potential is critical in the needed transition of the global energy system away from fossil fuels to mitigate further climate disruption.
Many marine renewable energy options, such as tidal energy, wave energy, floating solar energy, and thermal energy conversion are at earlier stages of development and merit much greater investments in research and development to determine the contributions that they might make to a decarbonized energy system.
The ocean can also help the world meet its food needs with lower-carbon products. Aquaculture in particular – the farming of aquatic organisms and plants, including fish, shellfish, and seaweed – can provide sustainable sources of protein and nutrition for a growing global population, with a much lower carbon footprint than most land-based food production systems.While already a significant sector, there are ways to increase the reach of aquaculture’s “blue foods” as well as its ability to provide several other ingredients for our modern economy, including feedstocks for fertilizers, oils, nutraceuticals, bioplastics, and other industrial needs. Expanding sustainable aquaculture will be a necessary part of a global transition to a lower-carbon economy.
An enormous amount of the world’s goods move around the globe on ships. Marine shipping currently accounts for around three percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Replacing carbon-intensive shipping with low-carbon alternatives powered by renewable energy sources is urgently needed to reduce emissions from this sector.
Accelerating attention and resources for the development and adoption of decarbonized shipping technologies will reduce global greenhouse gas emissions via a more sustainable and low-carbon transportation system.
The ocean can provide low-carbon energy, low-carbon food, and low-carbon transportation
What we are doing
Ocean Visions is currently undertaking a landscape scan to identify “neglected opportunities” within the wide arena of ocean-based alternatives to reduce global carbon emissions. This landscape scan is focused on finding high-leverage opportunities (defined by mitigation potential, scalability potential, and stage of current technology development) that have not yet received sufficient investment of time, energy, and resources to reach maximum potential. Once this scan is complete, we will help accelerate development of the highest potential solutions by convening critical actors and facilitating analyses and technology development and testing.