Running Tide’s Approach to Evaluating Our Environmental Impact

Running Tide is dedicated to restoring ocean and planetary health. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has repeatedly stated that the development and scaling of carbon removal is a critical component of any reasonable pathway to limiting global warming to the 1.5°C benchmark. As ocean-based carbon removal methods and technologies progress, careful consideration of their ecological and environmental impacts is required to ensure that this work advances us towards a more hopeful future. Nevertheless, due to rapidly developing technologies, significant differences in approach and implementation, and the large spatial scales over which ocean-based carbon removal technologies operate, identifying and assessing risks that are consistent across the entire industry can prove challenging.

Our work at Running Tide aims to maximize global ocean health benefits while minimizing localized impact, and our understanding of the full scope of impact is contingent on environmental testing and monitoring. The identification, evaluation, and monitoring of potential environmental impacts, based on best available science, is foundational to the success of our work. 

This view is shared by our peers in the industry and scientific community, who have also called for the development of a robust and transparent process to understand, monitor, and quantify all impacts of carbon removal activities – both intended and positive, as well as potentially negative impacts and risks. 

Our Environmental Framework

Running Tide was founded to make a positive impact on ocean health and Earth’s climate for our collective society and future generations. Our work is grounded in best available science and a robust set of system design principles, and is guided by our mission to restore ocean health, rebalance the carbon cycle, decarbonize global supply chains, and revitalize coastal communities. Over the last year, Running Tide has worked to develop and formalize the framework through which we understand our carbon removal system’s potential ecological and environmental impact, develop internal standards, and identify open questions that need to be answered to refine our assessments. Running Tide supports research into these areas through both partnerships and funding, in an effort to not only advance our understanding of our system impacts, but to also advance the broader scientific understanding of ocean ecosystems. 

Our environmental framework also provides a mechanism for engagement and evaluation with our research partners, external stakeholders, and regulatory agencies to ensure our continued alignment with global scientific consensus and leading subject matter experts.

As part of our commitment to transparency, we are sharing the first step of this ecological and environmental framework and process: a catalog of the environmental exposures that may result from our carbon removal work. This work has been reviewed by a range of internal and external scientific contributors, and we thank them for their engagement and feedback, which has been incorporated throughout. 

Catalog of Potential Environmental Exposures

This catalog consists of two primary documents. The first, our Catalog of Potential Environmental Exposures, is a comprehensive list and categorization of the exposures or impacts to marine ecosystems — separated by the pelagic region (the upper open ocean) and to the benthic region (the bottom of the ocean) — that could potentially arise from the deployment of Running Tide’s carbon removal system, as currently designed. We intend for this to be a living document that evolves as our carbon removal technologies and mitigation strategies develop, and as the best available science evolves. This work has also been shared with the Government of Iceland, with whom we are in regular contact related to our ongoing research activities.

Independent Third-Party Review

The second document is a review of the aforementioned Catalog of Environmental Exposures, completed by Deloitte in early summer 2023. This summary review was conducted to ensure our consideration of potential exposures was comprehensive, and to provide an independent review of Running Tide’s categorization of these potential impacts (speculative, substantiated, and consensus exposures). This catalog was further reviewed by a number of additional expert groups, including our independent Scientific Advisory Board (convened by Ocean Visions), and benefitted from comments provided by several members of the Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI) Climate Change working group.

Consensus Environmental Impacts for 2023 Research Deployments

Within the Catalog of Potential Environmental Exposures and highlighted in the independent review process, “consensus exposures” – i.e., exposures that are strongly supported with empirical evidence, rigorous analyses, and widely accepted as an exposure by researchers, governmental agencies, and industry – are of particular importance to Running Tide’s initial research deployments. These consensus impacts, and our plans to monitor and mitigate them, are summarized below (please see the full Catalog for further detail): 

Looking Ahead

Importantly, these resources are just one step in supporting and demonstrating our responsible ocean stewardship, and we look forward to sharing more of the work associated with this effort in the future. In the meantime, you can find additional information on Running Tide’s monitoring, quantification, and verification methods in our Framework Protocol for open ocean carbon removal, as well as in our Carbon Removal Research Roadmap

Read Running Tide's Catalog of Environmental Exposures HERE.

Read Deloitte's review of the Catalog HERE.

Running Tide’s Approach to Evaluating Our Environmental Impact
Alison Tune
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