EcoAct, Interxion, Schneider Electric and Calanques National Park announce seagrass conservation program in battle against climate change

Digital and environmental players have decided to team up to develop the first methodology dedicated to seagrass protection, enabling the certification of low-carbon projects in France, with a pilot site in Calanques National Park.

This methodology will be submitted for validation to the Directorate General for Energy and Climate (DGEC) of the ministry of Ecological and inclusive transition (MTES) as part of the Low-carbon certification scheme aimed at certifying projects making it possible to achieve France’s carbon neutral objectives.

EcoAct, an Atos group Company specialising in climate and active player on the ground, in partnership with Interxion: A Digital Realty Company, Schneider Electric IT France and Calanques National Park, have launched the ‘Prométhée – Med’ research project. The purpose of this project is to establish the first methodology for the certification of seagrass conservation and preservation measures as part of the Low-carbon certification, with an initial pilot site in Calanques National Park in the Mediterranean.

Seagrass protection: instrumental in fighting against global warming

Seagrass plays a major role in climate regulation and the conservation of the world’s biodiversity. These highly diversified and productive ecosystems perform important ecological functions (spawning, nursery ground, etc.) and are home to 4% to 18% of marine species, although they account for less than 2% of the total ocean area.

Endemic to the Mediterranean, the Posidonia meadow (Posidonia Oceanica) also plays a key role in maintaining biological and physical balances in this semi-enclosed sea. It is also characterised by its exceptional carbon storage capacity. This seagrass stores up to 1,500 tonnes of carbon per hectare, i.e. 3 to 5 times more than tropical forests, and up to 7 times more than a French hardwood forest over millions of hectares and hundreds of years. Seagrass also provides important ecosystem services by contributing to protecting the coastline against erosion, supporting coastal fishing or filtering the water column.

And yet, 13% to 38% of seagrass areas have disappeared since 1960[1]. It is believed that, albeit legally protected, Posidonia loses 1.5% of its area each year.

Climate change, seabed artificialisation, pollution, poor fishing practices and the mooring of ships that uproot plants with their anchors are among the primary causes of seagrass loss. Their degradation – in addition to destroying key ecosystems – therefore causes significant destruction of carbon stocks. Conversely, their regeneration helps increase these stocks.

Consequently, seagrass protection is a nature-based solution relying on ‘blue carbon’, which opens up new opportunities to achieve the global goal of zero net emissions set by the Paris Agreement, as well as the carbon neutrality objective enshrined in the French National low-carbon strategy.

A partnership born in Marseille for the protection of Posidonia meadow and the certification of low-carbon projects in France

The ‘Prométhée – Med’ project was born from the encounter between Interxion and Calanques National Park as part of the Entrepreneurs pour la Planète initiative, before they were joined by Schneider Electric IT France and EcoAct.

Roman de Rafael, Nature-Based Solutions Head of Project Development, EcoAct, says: “We are delighted to contribute to the establishment of a methodology for the certification of seagrass conservation and restoration projects, directly on French soil. Nature-based Solutions form an essential component of a sustainable future combining zero net emissions, fairness and environmental protection.”

François Bland, director of Calanques National Park, says: “As it aims at assessing the price of blue carbon with respect to the actions intended to avoid the destruction of a linchpin natural habitat in the Mediterranean, this project is fully consistent with the National Park’s objectives and marine environment protection missions. If the project comes to fruition, the National Park may join the carbon market as a beneficiary and therefore finance the work scheduled under its overall mooring scheme, as well as the monitoring and management actions needed to ensure effective seagrass protection.”

Fabrice Coquio, managing director of Interxion France, says: “As the European leader of carrier- and cloud-neutral colocation data centre solutions, with our French offices in Paris and Marseille, we are happy to support the promotion of France’s low-carbon certification. This step complements our global sustainability commitment to target a 68% reduction in direct emissions and a 24% reduction in indirect emissions by 2030, in line with a 1.5-degree climate change scenario. In addition, Interxion France announced its carbon neutrality for scope 1 and 2 emissions at the end of 2020. This is a fantastic opportunity to develop a carbon offset methodology dedicated to seagrass protection for the first time in Metropolitan France that can benefit directly to the Calanques National Park and, in the future, to businesses willing to take action for the environment.” 

Elena Fedotova, VP Secure Power, Schneider Electric France, says: “Since 2004, Schneider Electric has taken action to preserve the planet through multiple programmes. One of the objectives of the most recent one, SSI, is to ensure our extended ecosystem becomes carbon neutral, as defined at COP21, by 2025, by allowing the Group’s clients to achieve CO2 savings that exceed our own carbon footprint. Beyond our enthusiasm, it is the result of many years of commitment and sustainable practices that we will deploy for this project alongside Interxion, EcoAct and Calanques National Park.”

A multi-stage pilot project 

Several phases will be required before this new methodology can be submitted to the DGEC within the MTES as part of the Low-carbon certification:

  1. The filing of a draft methodology notification with the DGEC, announcing our intention to create a Low-carbon certification methodology relating to seagrass.
  2. The identification and summary of the scientific and technical literature on the carbon dynamics of Posidonia meadow as well as existing conservation and regeneration measures are underway.
  3. Creation of a carbon calculation tool which on the one hand will contain all the values and on the other will link them to the potential activities to be implemented, before being tested with Calanques National Park.
  4. Preparation of the methodology, based on these analyses and tests, with a view to validation by the DGEC, resulting in the subsequent certification of projects.
  5. Drafting of an initial ‘Pilot project document’ adapted to the Calanques National Park site and integrating its activities into the proposed methodological framework.
  6. The results of the project should be disseminated by early 2022.

The project will be complete as soon as the methodology is accepted by the MTES and the pilot site is certified as part of the Low-carbon certification. 

[1] Marbà et al. 2014

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