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June 3, 2024

World first protocol for Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement

Protocol certified with Planetary as first supplier; Shopify, MaRS and Terraset as first buyers

Eamon Jubbawy
Founder and CEO

Isometric today became the first carbon registry to publish a protocol for durable carbon removal through Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement (OAE). 

The protocol details how OAE—which increases the ocean’s natural ability to draw down and store atmospheric carbon dioxide—can be monitored, reported on, and verified (MRV) so that buyers can purchase OAE carbon credits with confidence.

The first project developer who has signed up to this protocol is Planetary Technologies.  Planetary Technologies adds naturally abundant alkaline minerals to coastal water systems to deliver alkalinity to the ocean and facilitate additional carbon drawdown. 

Shopify, MaRS and Terraset are some of the first buyers of credits from Planetary that will be delivered against the Isometric OAE Protocol. 

Shopify has been a leading supporter of durable carbon removal. Their purchase from Planetary will be verified against this protocol. 

Terraset is a nonprofit that uses philanthropic capital to catalyze the nascent carbon removal industry. They pool tax-deductible donations and make strategic purchases of permanent, high-quality carbon removal. 

MaRS Discovery District is North America’s largest innovation hub, providing direct support for startups and accelerating the adoption of high-impact solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including climate change. Their Mission from MaRS program supports the commercialization of early-stage ventures with negative-emission solutions. 

OAE is inspired by the natural geologic carbon cycle. When carbon dioxide dissolved in water reacts with alkaline rocks, the reaction forms bicarbonate and carbonate ions. When transported to oceans via rivers, carbon in this form is securely stored for more than 10,000 years. 

A typical OAE process involves adding alkalinity—from rocks, minerals or synthetically derived from seawater—to the surface ocean. This raises the pH of the seawater, converting the dissolved carbon dioxide in seawater into bicarbonate and carbonate ions. The reduced proportion of carbon dioxide in the ocean’s surface helps facilitate additional carbon dioxide drawdown from the atmosphere. OAE also has a co-benefit of mitigating ocean acidification.

OAE has high scaling potential because it leverages the vast surface area of the ocean. The initial alkalinity addition occurs locally at a project site, but then it is diluted and dispersed by ocean currents. The eventual removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through air-sea exchange occurs over a wide area, ranging up to thousands of kilometers from the original site.

The Isometric OAE Protocol requires both measurements at the original project site as well as use of internationally recognized numerical ocean models to quantify additional drawdown of carbon into the ocean. The quantification methods used in this Protocol have been informed by Isometric’s research partnership with [C]Worthy, a leading Focused Research Organization that is building open-source software tools to support MRV of marine CDR (mCDR) projects. 

All Isometric protocols are developed in line with the Isometric Standard, which is the world’s most robust set of rules for carbon removal. This protocol was created in collaboration between Isometric’s in-house Science Team and interdisciplinary expert reviewers across biogeochemical ocean modeling, chemical, biological and ecological responses to OAE, and field trial researchers. It was also informed by the outputs of a consensus building workshop with key academics and industry participants, hosted by Isometric at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in February. It has undergone a full public consultation as well as receiving peer review from ocean science experts within the Isometric Science Network, a group of over 200 carbon removal scientists.

The publication of this protocol follows that of Isometric’s Bio-oil Geological Storage, Biomass Geological Storage, Direct Air Capture, and Enhanced Weathering protocols, bringing the total number of certified Isometric protocols to five.

The publication of the Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement Protocol is another step towards creating trust and transparency in carbon markets. This is what is required to help carbon removal scale to the level that the planet needs and is what Isometric was founded to do.