Priorities for pulling carbon out of the air
28 May 2021
Writing in The Conversation, Cameron Hepburn and Steve Smith explain that to reach net zero emissions by 2050, global emissions must be cut faster and deeper than the world has yet managed. But even then, some hard-to-treat sources of pollution – in aviation, agriculture and cement making – may linger for longer than we would like. It will take time for clean alternatives to arrive and replace them.
That means the world also needs to find and improve CO₂ removal technologies to stabilise the climate. CO₂ can be captured by plants as they grow or absorbed by soils, minerals or chemicals, and locked up in the biosphere, oceans, underground, or even in long-lived products such as construction materials (including timber or aggregates). And new innovations and start-ups are emerging.
So how do we make sure that we get carbon removal right without distracting from the critical task of reducing emissions?
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