This solution relates to several stories in our COP27 anthology such as Pirates!, Ocean Nutrification, Oasis, and Penang Fairhaven: A Visitor’s Guide. There have been some existing projects in regard to ocean nutrification; several small-scale single-dose trials have been done. Because of the scale of the ocean, sustained trials over long periods with monitored controls are required to develop a proper understanding of this complex system. Several proposed trials have been blocked by the London Protocol and application of the precautionary principle – even where trials are small and low risk.
Our experts have classed this solution as a ‘gamechanger’ meaning it changes the systemic conditions leading to different incentives/decision-making processes. Ocean nutrification has the potential to drawdown many millions of tonnes of CO2 at low cost and in numerous locations around the world.
How does this solution rate on:
|Climate impact: tonnes of carbon saved/removed||Ocean nutrification has the potential to drawdown many millions of tonnes of CO2 at low cost and in numerous locations around the world.|
|Climate adaptation-resilience||If carefully managed, in accordance with the nutrient levels in the parts of the ocean where the work takes place, the approach could continue to work despite the wide range of conditions.|
|Social justice i.e. addresses inequalities, diversity, inclusion||If the ocean nutrification (ON) increases fish stocks, there could be a considerable positive effect on coastal communities.|
|Cost of action needed to progress goal||ON is perhaps the lowest cost potential CDR, carbon dioxide removal, route. However, at scale, it would still cost billions of dollars to operate.|
|Which location is the solution most needed/applicable||Areas where artificial uplift brings unused nutrients from the near-deeps.|
Areas where existing over-nutrified dead zones are managed/aerated to produce.
|Risk||ON is viewed as a risky approach in some quarters and trials have been resisted.|
1000 TPY scale trials should be permitted except where there are additional concerns, so a body of evidence can be built up.
There is a risk that inappropriate addition of nutrients will strip the nutrient lean deeps of trace elements which will make the ocean even more barren. Extensive trials are needed to understand how this can be managed.
|Feasibility||Dosing systems are already available which would make this system relatively straightforward. Monitoring with ‘gliders’ and other in-water ROV systems would need to be deployed intensively in early trials.|
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Needs to be added.
Interested in progressing this solution further?
|Actions for policymakers||Address the uncertainty caused by the current form of the London protocol and the associated testing methodology.|
Tests which can only do a limited amount of damage should be fast-tracked and closely monitored – say 1000 TPY of CO2 sequestration = approx. 3 articulated lorries of emissions.
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|Actions for business|
|Actions for public||Join campaigns such as about Surfers Against Sewage | Environmental charity tackling plastic pollution (sas.org.uk).|