In Yokohama, Japan, a dedicated group of around 100 volunteers recently took part in an environmental initiative to plant eelgrass along the city’s coast, just south of Tokyo. This activity forms a critical part of a broader effort to restore the marine ecosystem and aligns with Japan’s ambitious goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Japan is known as the world’s fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Given its extensive coastline, which is disproportionately large compared to its land area, Japan is uniquely positioned to use marine vegetation to help absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus playing a pivotal role in mitigating climate change.

This pioneering project has drawn national attention and is significant for its integration of “blue carbon” strategies, which utilize oceanic and coastal ecosystems to store carbon. Keita Furukawa, a marine scientist from the Association for Shore Environment Creation, underscored the potent capacity of marine plants like eelgrass in the carbon sequestration process. By including the carbon absorption data of seagrass and seaweed in its annual Greenhouse Gas Inventory report submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Japan has set an international precedent. Currently, marine vegetation offsets only 0.03% of Japan’s annual emissions. However, its importance is expected to increase as the country’s forests age and become less efficient at capturing carbon. Expanding eelgrass cultivation could significantly bolster Japan’s climate action efforts, marking an essential step forward in environmental conservation.