Whales are facing threats such as ship collisions, noise pollution, and commercial whaling. Japan is one of the few countries that still hunt whales commercially, with minke whaling for the year commencing last week. However, beyond concerns over reduced whale populations and their impact on marine ecosystems, there is increased attention being paid to the role of whales in helping fight against climate change. The importance of whales in the ecosystem and to the planet’s climate comes from their role in carbon sequestration. Whales absorb vast amounts of carbon from the atmosphere during their lives through the food they eat and store it deep in the ocean when they die. These carbon sinks lock up carbon, preventing it from being released back into the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. The potential for whales to help mitigate climate change is significant, with the great whales alone estimated to sequester an average of 33 tons of CO2 per animal over their lives. Efforts to protect whale populations should therefore be viewed not just as a conservation issue, but also as an important element in addressing climate change.
It is important that carbon credit schemes also benefit local communities.
The World Meteorological Organisation has stated that 193 countries have given unanimous backing to a scheme to monitor global greenhouse...