CO2 reduction is critical for climate change mitigation.

If we are to avert the disastrous implications of climate change, we must promptly and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all areas of the economy.

Despite enormous efforts to cut emissions, the only way to meet climate targets by mid-century is to achieve climate neutrality (net emissions at or below zero). Thousands of billions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) will have to be removed from the atmosphere to achieve this.

To combat climate change, CO2 must be removed from the atmosphere.

CO2 removal is required largely for two reasons:

For starters, global emissions are continuing to rise. As a result, we will almost certainly need to offset emissions that will undoubtedly surpass the carbon budget, or the maximum amount of cumulative emissions that can be in the atmosphere in order to meet the objective of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Second, since emissions from difficult-to-decarbonize industries such as agriculture and aviation will need to be compensated.

Initiatives that increase CO2 sequestration through natural processes include: For example, agricultural and forestry management practices that attempt to improve natural carbon sinks in forests and soils.

Two technologies in particular are attracting a lot of attention: direct CO2 capture from the atmosphere and bioenergy combined with carbon capture and storage systems (DACCS and BECCS respectively).

DACCS works by using big fans to filter the air, and CO2 is captured and retained by chemical processes. After that, a large amount of energy is expended to extract the pure CO2. The CO2 gathered can either be utilized in the food sector or geologically preserved, permanently removing it from the atmosphere.

CO2 is originally absorbed by plants during their growth through photosynthesis in BECCS. Following that, the CO2 emitted during the conversion processes of these biomasses (for example, burning to produce power or heat) is caught, transported, and geologically stored in soils and seas, resulting in a negative emissions balance.

Inadequate planning and implementation

Despite its undeniable importance, CO2 removal methods have only been implemented in a restricted and small-scale manner. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we are still a long way from meeting the climate target’s negative emissions requirement.

The energy system is inextricably tied to these promising technologies (DACCS and BECCS). Because DACCS uses a lot of energy, it is currently an expensive alternative. Renewable energies must be able to meet the majority of the energy demand before it can be used on a wide scale.

BECCS, on the other hand, has the advantage of removing CO2 while also delivering renewable energy. This clean energy can be used to replace fossil-fuel-based energy, resulting in a variety of environmental benefits. BECCS, on the other hand, can endanger ecosystems, especially if energy crops are used.

The energy system is constantly changing, and the energy transition is becoming more prominent in governmental agendas and society at large. In this regard, the integration of these critical technologies in order to attain climate neutrality must be planned as soon as possible and in an environmentally acceptable manner.

It will be costly to do nothing about climate change.

These CO2 removal methods must be used on a broad basis as soon as possible. Cost overruns will result from delays in connecting them into the electricity grid. Furthermore, CO2 removal capacity is decreasing year after year, endangering the feasibility of meeting climate commitments.

These economic and environmental concerns are largely due to the waste of resources that are readily available and could be used to generate electricity. For example, forestry and agricultural biomass leftovers are wasted or used inefficiently, while abandoned agricultural land that may be used for biomass cultivation is unused.

In addition, there are a slew of additional big obstacles and uncertainties that will stymie the rollout of these technologies. There will be technical challenges, such as the need to establish a large transportation network to move CO2 to storage places. Other political, social, and environmental difficulties will also arise, limiting the expansion of these technologies even further.

Our climate goals are in jeopardy. If we do not want to fail, we must encourage and develop carbon dioxide capture technology in the near future, avoiding delays and achieving the requisite scale. To that aim, CO2 removal must be prioritized on the climate agenda, and it must be recognized as a vital player in the portfolio of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Countries must take immediate steps to ensure and assist the deployment of CO2 abatement technologies. Only in this manner will we be able to avert the grave threat of climate change that threatens our future.

 

Article Author Gerluxe

Image: tcheng