As atmospheric carbon dioxide continues to rise, despite the current lockdown, a new study urges coordinated action to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
Researchers from Imperial College London, the University of Girona, ETH Zürich and the University of Cambridge say that while mitigation quotas are part of the Paris Agreement plans to keep global temperature rises below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, a system must be put in place to deliver the other part of the equation: removal. This means taking actions including the roll out of more Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies, and ramping up reforestation efforts.
“Carbon dioxide removal is necessary to meet climate targets, since we have so far not done enough to mitigate our emissions. Both will be necessary going forward, but the longer we wait to start removing CO2 on a large scale, the more we will have to do,” said Dr Niall Mac Dowell,” from the Centre for Environmental Policy and the Centre for Process Systems Engineering at Imperial. “It is imperative that nations have these conversations now, to determine how quotas could be allocated fairly and how countries could meet those quotas via cross-border cooperation. It will work best if we all work together.”
Doing it fairly
The team involved in the study modelled different methods for assigning quotas across Europe. Issues of cost and culpability mean it will be a challenging task to get countries to agree on the best way forward. One suggestion made by the researchers involves a trading scenario, whereby somewhere like the UK, with an abundance of space for CCS, could sell capacity to other countries.
Co-lead author Dr Carlos Pozo from the University of Girona, added: “By 2050, the world needs to be carbon neutral – taking out of the atmosphere as much CO2 as it puts in. To this end, a CO2 removal industry needs to be rapidly scaled up, and that begins now, with countries looking at their responsibilities and their capacity to meet any quotas.
“There are technological solutions ready to be deployed. Now it is time for international agreements to get the ball rolling so we can start making serious progress towards our climate goals.”
And a recent article on these pages pointed to research showing global climate targets can be met with the help of CCS technologies, and that it is possible to capture and store levels of carbon dioxide that can support efforts to keep global warming rises below the 2°C – and possibly 1.5°C – targets.
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