A Business Plan for Blue Carbon Offsets at Duke University

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Marine ecosystems such as salt marshes, sea grasses and mangroves absorb from the atmosphere and store large amounts of carbon, both in their vegetation and in the soil beneath them. In light of rapid climate change and global warming, it is imperative that we invest in protecting and increasing the carbon and greenhouse gas sinks on our planet. Given the large quantity of carbon in coastal ecosystems relative to their area, these regions and their potential emissions are of great significance. By preserving and revitalizing coastal ecosystems, organizations can utilize this stored carbon to offset their carbon emissions. This is what the Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative is considering in North Carolina. By investing in the protection of the North Carolina shoreline, Duke University has the capacity to generate “blue carbon” Offsets to offset on campus emission. Building on existing scientific data, analysis, and available methodologies, this report presents a Business Plan for a potential blue carbon project in North Carolina and offers the following recommendations for moving this effort forward:

  1. The initially proposed avoided erosion project for Ocracoke Island, NC does not appear to a viable source of blue carbon credits.
  2. As an alternative, consider a project that involves preserving wetlands from avoided conversion to another land use rather than an avoided erosion project.
  3. Do not engage in projects that will set the offset price above $20 per ton of carbon, as these projects are far more expensive than alternative sources of emission reduction.
  4. Because blue carbon in a newly developing offset category, utilize the current methodologies for coastal ecosystems until specific guidelines become available. 5. To achieve cost effectiveness, the initial project should involve a partner organization(s). This will decrease the financial resources DCOI will need to provide the project and will utilize the skills of professionals who have years of experience with wetland preservation along the coastline.





Fisher, Rebecca (2012). A Business Plan for Blue Carbon Offsets at Duke University. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/5291.

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.