The world must invest more to remove long-term greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, and to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
These are the findings of an independent report drawing on the expertise of 26 international researchers, who say that all the scenarios proposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will require decades of emissions reductions if the world is to avoid a double ceiling. of the Paris Agreement.
A significant increase in all conventional methods of carbon removal – such as reforestation – with new technologies, is necessary.
Unfortunately, the carbon dioxide removal sector is, according to the report, almost at the same time as the regeneration sector was at the end of the last century: promising but in need of large investments to be an ‘effective Paris’.
Reforestation – the creation of new forests – and the addition of new vegetation to agricultural land, is often the primary source of carbon dioxide. These processes could add up to 10 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year in 2050.
But currently, the most common methods can account for 2,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
It covers advanced photo technology, which only takes two megatonnes, or less than 0.1%, of the atmosphere.
“This shows the need for a higher level,” says Gregory Nemet of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“Its size is much larger than a CDR book [carbon dioxide removal] because it is starting from only small parts of 1-2 million tons per year, and we are talking about going up to gigatons in the next 30 years.
“27 years from now, we need to increase the CDR book by 1300 and we should, multiply by 30 by 2030. That’s a big challenge.”
The big gap must be closed as soon as possible
The three trends associated with the Paris Climate Agreement – the emphasis on renewable energy, the removal of carbon or the reduction of carbon consumption – show the division between wishes and needs.
The most common methods are only included in the national commitments to remove about 2,600 megatonnes of carbon per year until the end of the decade, but in any case, the current methods of removing carbon will be very little in helping to achieve the goal of Paris.
An emerging opportunity is to expand the use of forest management techniques.
“The best among the most ready technologies [are] planting trees, soil oxygen and biochar,” says Dr Annette Cowie, assistant professor at the University of New England’s School of Environmental and Rural Sciences.
Clay carbon sequestration is a natural process by which soil management controls allow CO2 caught and stored in the soil, which makes it better, stronger and more productive. But even though it’s a cheap way to remove emissions, the cost of measuring hard-to-detect soil gases is a significant factor in regulating government programs, which reimburse those who support such projects.
Biochar is a residue (such as charcoal and other carbon products) produced by the slow heating of natural materials. But while soil aeration is a mature method of carbon removal, biochar production is only beginning to realize its commercial potential in Australia.
“Building land is always a good thing, it is good for agriculture and the environment, so there is no reason to do that. But there are obstacles, for example, to develop ways to supply air to farmers due to carbon emissions.
“All methods have pros and cons, and we have to look at both.”
Investing in the development of new technologies is seen as necessary to reduce emissions.
These include technologies that directly capture and store carbon dioxide, treating oceans with saltwater to reduce acidity, re-distributing marine nutrients, removing carbon directly and using bioenergy during extraction.
In Cosmos Week Friday: Absorbing CO2 in the atmosphere: The technological advances needed to make it happen
But countries around the world, including Australia, are still at a disadvantage when it comes to implementing new emissions technologies.
Aaron Tang from ANU’s Fenner School of the Environment and Society says there is little silver lining to Australia’s climate change policy, but there is still a long way to go before it can start removing emissions.
Although existing policies and credit programs provide incentives to implement emission reduction projects, these have not reached a sufficient level to be resolved.
Tang said: “We are not where we want to be.”
We “don’t” have a clear policy for expanding CDR… we don’t even have the political and policy discussions going on in Australia…
The solution to the deep air cuts lies, according to the report, in combining all methods of removal and mitigation.
“One of the biggest takeaways from this report is that we need to think about solutions,” says Nemet. “It’s a record because we’re focused on reducing emissions and then we’re increasing the conventional CDR, then we’re expanding and increasing the manual CDR.
Matthew Agius is a science writer for Cosmos Magazine.
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