According to officials, China will explore ways to increase its ocean “carbon sink” and enhance climate resilience in its marine ecological system as part of its pledge to reduce greenhouse gases to net-zero by 2060.
A carbon sink is a natural or artificial reservoir that can store carbon extracted from the atmosphere.
China, the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter, aims to increase its forest sink by 6 billion cubic meters above 2005.
But as China comes under growing land pressure and tries to maximize the available space for the forest, nature reserves, and arable land, the country is looking to take advantage of its vast territorial waters to boost its “blue sink” potential.
“Maintaining ocean blue sink and steadily improving ocean carbon sink capacity are important tasks to facilitate our climate goals,” said Zhang Zhifeng, vice director at the Department of Marine Ecology and Environment.
China has been trying to improve its coastal water quality, especially near the Bohai Bay and Yangtze River Delta, establishing ecological reserves to protect coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds.
However, data from the environment ministry shows that 17 out of the 24 monitored marine ecological systems were in a “sub-healthy” or “unhealthy” state in 2020, with the number of marine species below the normal range.
In July, the eastern port city Qingdao experienced its worst-ever algae infestation, with about 60,000 square km of the area covered in harmful green seaweed caused by intensive farming and increased organic matter.
The coastal province of Zhejiang plans to establish more algae and shellfish breeding facilities dedicated to improving its carbon sink capacity. It will look to bring carbon sink products into its regional carbon sink trading market over 2021-2025.