According to the report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), each great whale absorbs on average 33 tons of carbon dioxide in their life before their sink to the bottom of the ocean where they remain for centuries. A tree, however, only absorbs up to 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.
“Since the role of whales is irreplaceable in mitigating and building resilience to climate change,” note Ralph Chami and Sena Oztosun from the IMF’s Institute for Capacity Development, and two professors, Thomas Cosimano and Connel Fullenkamp, in the report, “their survival should be integrated into the objectives of the 190 countries that in 2015 signed the Paris Agreement for combating climate risk.”
Whales not only absorb carbon dioxide themselves, but they also boost phytoplankton productivity, which captures as much carbon dioxide as 1.7 trillion trees and contributes at least half of all oxygen to the Earth’s atmosphere. The report adds that a mere 1% boost in phytoplankton productivity is equivalent to the sudden appearance of two billion mature trees.