Agriculture & climate change, UK (Commonwealth Union) – The aim to lower carbon emissions has been a key focus for over a decade. In recent years many governments of nations and corporations have pledged to lower carbon emissions, however with the current economic crisis that has impacted most parts of the world make it difficult for small businesses to make such adjustments as they were the hardest hit by the recent pandemic.
The 1st Oxford-led State of Carbon Dioxide Removal report revealed recently indicates that Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) from the environment is essential to restrict global warming, in addition to the rapid lowering of emissions, which is the stark conclusion.
Over 20 global CDR experts, led by Dr Steve Smith, from the University of Oxford, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, joined hands to reveal the report. The comprehensive 120-page report, had a warning that there is a huge gap between the amount of CDR required to fulfil international temperature goals and how much governments are targeting in their fulfilment. However, while the authors discovered a shortfall in policies to back the CDR spread, they reveled research, innovation and public awareness around CDR were rapidly increasing.
Dr Smith, Executive Director of Oxford Net Zero and CO2RE, the national hub for greenhouse gas removal, as well as a lead author of the report, says, “To limit warming to 2°C or lower, we need to accelerate emissions reductions…the findings of this report are clear: we also need to increase carbon removal, by restoring and enhancing ecosystems and rapidly scaling up new CDR methods.”
He further says, “Many new methods are emerging with potential. Rather than focusing on one or two options we should encourage a portfolio, so that we get to net zero quickly without over-relying on any one method.”
“CDR is not something we could do, but something we absolutely have to do to reach the Paris Agreement temperature goal,” said Dr Oliver Geden from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.
Currently the majority of the present CDR arrives from conventional removal procedures on land, which is mainly by measures such as planting trees and soil management. The report states that nations are required to maintain and expand this while moving forward, however the experts indicate that this is far from enough.
Virtually all pathways that restrict temperature increase need new CDR technologies, like bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), biochar, enhanced rock weathering and direct air capture with carbon capture and storage (DACCS). Right now, these make up just a minute fraction of the present CDR, roughly 0.1%. However, if the CDR gap is to be bridged, rapid growth is required of these new CDR technologies, which is by a factor of 1,300 on average by 2050, as the report indicates.
The report however emphasizes that, CDR is not a silver bullet and does not reduce requirements for deep emission cuts. Our dependence on CDR can be restricted by lowering emissions rapidly by utilizing energy with greater efficiency, according to the report’s authors.
Co-author Professor Gregory Nemet, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, La Follette School of Public Affairs, however says “Innovation in CDR has expanded dramatically in the past two years…given the orders of magnitude the CDR industry needs to grow by mid-century to limit warming, there is an urgent need for comprehensive policy support to spur growth.”
Dr Jan Minx, from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) in Berlin, in conclusion says “The state of CDR research, development and policy lags behind – similar to renewables 25 years ago. Good decisions and accelerated progress in the field of CDR require adequate data. This report will help improve this situation step-by-step with the wider CDR community.”