In the final segment of the Oceans press conference Shaun Fitzgerald & Brad Ack answer two key questions relating to ocean carbon sink restoration and regeneration:
Dr Shaun Fitzgerald OBE
I’ll just address the question regarding, for example, Direct Air Capture. If you’re going to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, you’ve got one of two choices. One is you need to have a lot of areas and use natural flows, or you have a limited area and you use energy fans to go and get the air moving across that surface.
One of the advantages of the ocean, it covers 70% of the Earth’s surface, actually, we have a huge amount of area. So the natural exchange that you have between the atmosphere and the ocean is one of its great attributes. The mechanism by which you are then going to remove the carbon dioxide, in effect, from the ocean, for example, by growing things, you are really deriving massive benefits from the incredibly natural area already provided.
So that’s a key feature that I would really sort of herald as to why we think ocean-based carbon dioxide removal needs a lot further investigation. It has great potential.
I would echo Shaun, that the ocean has enormous upside potential but we are in our infancy in understanding how these accelerated carbon removal technologies might work and how they might scale.
It’s not just science, its engineering, its economics, its social and political considerations, governance, etc. We’re not putting anywhere near enough time and effort into what is an area that has a great deal of potential. We don’t want to leave the impression that any of these things have been figured out yet because they haven’t. But we haven’t invested in figuring them out.
We need to really ramp up a whole range of controlled field trials across every single pathway that’s been mentioned, with very clear external third-party monitoring and verification, and transparency in all of the data so that we can produce information for the policymakers at bodies like UNFCCC to determine where are we going to get this massive carbon removal that is not negotiable.