Salesforce Capitalizes On Growing Market For Blue Carbon Credits
Salesforce recently announced a package of measures to promote blue carbon (carbon captured by ocean and coastal ecosystems) projects, whilst ensuring biodiversity and local livelihoods are safeguarded. Salesforce has launched a collaborative initiative targeting blue carbon markets, which it is co-leading with global environmental organizations such as Conservation International, Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (a group which Salesforce is joining) and the World Economic Forum’s Friends of Ocean Action. The initiative will work to develop consistent standards for assessing high-quality blue carbon credits, to ensure that increasing investment into the growing market is directed towards sustainable projects that do not neglect local communities and biodiversity. Salesforce also announced that it is aiming to purchase more than $10m high quality blue carbon credits over the next four years.
The focus of Salesforce’s proposals is ensuring transparent and multi-beneficial blue carbon projects, which will be critical contributions towards maintaining the marine biodiversity that facilitates the ocean’s carbon and heat storage capacities. However, kelp credits are an alternative market sinking carbon quickly and affordably, with the capacity to sequester approximately 1 to 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year. Running Tide, a Maine-based start-up which has attracted investment from Shopify and Stripe, is one firm pioneering this space by utilizing low-tech kelp farms floating offshore on biodegradable buoys that sink when the kelp grows to be too heavy.
The further establishment of kelp and seaweed credits is being investigated by Verra in ‘The Seascape Carbon Initiative’ launched in August 2021. Although researchers, and firms such as Ostrom Climate Solutions, are conducting research on seaweed carbon sequestration, the ecological impact of disturbing the sea floor, at the scale necessitated for meeting net zero targets, is still scientifically unknown. Hence, the growing kelp carbon credit market will provide the quick carbon sequestration fix needed to achieve net zero targets, but these credits must be complimented with high-quality blue carbon credits, such as those promoted by Salesforce, to ensure healthy oceans.
Ocean and coastal-based carbon credit projects have only recently been standardized and are gaining significant attention in the voluntary carbon market, which has traditionally focused on land-based projects. Marine-based carbon sequestration has lagged behind terrestrial efforts due to the cost, intensive labor and limited scale and accessibility of projects, compared to forestation projects for example. Verra only expanded their voluntary carbon markets standard to include tidal wetland and seagrass restoration in 2015, with coastal wetlands being added in 2020.
The market for blue carbon credits will continue to grow as firms work to reach their net zero targets and simultaneously bolster ecosystem services and biodiversity through previously untapped markets. Apple, Gucci and Proctor & Gamble all announced blue carbon projects in 2021, aiming to protect and restore over 149,000 acres of mangroves between them. The restoration of coastal ecosystems reinforces the ecosystem services that these spaces provide, such as flooding defenses, the livelihoods and wellbeing of local communities and contributions to global food security. Maintaining marine carbon sinks is also crucial to prevent further GHG emissions, as the degradation of coastal ecosystems accounts for 3-19% of carbon emissions from global deforestation despite mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrass meadows constituting only 2-6% of tropical forest. Due to the associated degradation risks, numerous ecosystem service benefits or quick carbon capture of marine-based projects, firms would do well to invest in the growing blue carbon market when looking to offset emissions.