Climate change continues to be a pressing issue, and there is no denying that it is caused by human activities. One of the major contributors to this phenomenon is the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), in the atmosphere. To address this issue, many countries and companies have pledged to cut their emissions. However, according to a new report, cutting emissions alone will not be enough to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of removing CO2 from the atmosphere and the role that technology can play in this effort.
Why Emission Cuts Alone Are Insufficient
While reducing greenhouse gas emissions is crucial to combatting climate change, it is not enough to meet the targets set in the Paris Agreement. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that even if all emissions were to cease today, the world would still warm by 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. This is because greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere for centuries, continuing to contribute to warming. Therefore, it is essential to remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere.
The Importance of CO2 Removal
CO2 removal, also known as negative emissions, is the process of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it elsewhere. This approach is crucial because it can help to offset emissions that are difficult to eliminate entirely, such as those from the aviation and shipping industries. CO2 removal can also help to restore damaged ecosystems, such as forests and wetlands, which can act as carbon sinks.
The ocean generates 50 percent of the oxygen we need, absorbs 25 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions and captures 90 percent of the excess heat generated by these emissions. It is not just ‘the lungs of the planet’ but also its largest ‘carbon sink’ – a vital buffer against the impacts of climate change.United Nations Climate Action
Technologies for CO2 Removal
Carbon Engineering pilot plant in Squamish, British Columbia. It features Direct Air Capture technology that captures carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the atmosphere. Photo: Stephen Hui, Pembina Institute.
There are several technologies that can be used to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. These include:
- Afforestation and reforestation: Planting trees and restoring forests can absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in biomass and soil.
- Direct Air Capture (DAC): This technology uses machines to capture CO2 from the air and store it underground or use it in other processes.
- Ocean fertilization: This involves adding nutrients to the ocean to encourage the growth of algae, which absorb CO2 during photosynthesis.
- Carbon capture and storage (CCS): This process captures CO2 emissions from industrial processes and stores them underground.
The Role of Technology
Technology plays a vital role in CO2 removal efforts. Advancements in technology have made many of these approaches more affordable and effective. However, there is still a long way to go in terms of developing these technologies further and scaling them up to make a real impact. Governments and businesses must invest in research and development to make CO2 removal more efficient and accessible.
The need for CO2 removal is clear, and technology can help to make this a reality. By investing in research and development, governments and businesses can accelerate the development of these technologies and help to combat climate change. However, it is important to remember that CO2 removal should not be seen as a replacement for emission cuts. Instead, it should be viewed as a complementary approach that can help to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.