Nature-based carbon removal: The need and the opportunity

Nature-based solutions have lately gained traction as a combined approach to addressing the identical problems of climate change and biodiversity loss. Nature-based solutions are answers to societal challenges that incorporate working with nature.

Nature-based carbon removal

Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) is currently a prerequisite for fixing the climate catastrophe.

Human activities provide carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is released when hydrocarbon fuels such as coal, wood, gasoline, natural gas, and oil are burned. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere warms the earth and aids plant growth on land. Carbon in the ocean causes the water to become more acidic, putting marine life in danger.

The warming of the planet is already being caused by rising carbon dioxide levels. Right now, we emit around 40Gt a year. This is a massive challenge.

So far, terrestrial plants and the ocean have absorbed roughly 55% of the extra carbon humans have released into the atmosphere, while the remaining 45% has remained in the atmosphere.

To avoid the worst effects of climate change, the world must achieve net-zero emissions, which means removing and storing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than we put into it.

If we want to restrict global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, we must include carbon removal measures, and we must implement these practices more vigorously within the next decade.

We’ve relied on land and seas to absorb excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for a long time, but they’re reaching their limitations. The oceans are already becoming extremely acidic because of increased carbon dioxide, causing the marine environment to suffer. To protect all living things for future generations, we must now install shovel-ready carbon removal approaches.

There are natural and manmade ways for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in a variety of places, including trees and plants, soils, underground reservoirs, rocks, the ocean, and even concrete.

Because the land, technology, and the sea are all intertwined, we need a portfolio of removal approaches. As we remove carbon from the land with trees and carbon-sucking filters, the oceans may return some of the CO2 they have been accumulating to the atmosphere. Improving our understanding of ocean carbon removal processes and promoting their development are valuable additions to our climate action toolkit.

If carbon dioxide emissions are stopped at the same time, increasing the rate at which the ocean can safely absorb, and store carbon dioxide will assist accomplish climate goals.

Companies like Microsoft, Accenture, Stripe, Amazon, and GlaxoSmithKline are incorporating carbon removal into their larger climate strategies and initiatives.

Carbon removal technologies, both existing and emerging, can help remove carbon and turn major systems from a source of emissions to a store of carbon, making them a realistic complement to reduction strategies.

Six options for eliminating carbon from the atmosphere are as follows:

1) Forests

The power of plants and trees to remove carbon dioxide from the air and store it in wood and soil is called natural removal. Photosynthesis is a natural way for plants to take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and trees are particularly expert at storing this carbon. Expanding, restoring, and managing forests to increase carbon uptake can take advantage of photosynthesis, which converts carbon dioxide in the air into carbon deposited in wood and soils.

2) Agriculture

Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) through agricultural

Soils naturally store carbon, however due to excessive use, agricultural soils have a significant deficiency. Building soil carbon is also beneficial to farmers and ranchers since it improves soil health and crop yields. Trees on farms can also help to reduce carbon emissions while offering other benefits such as shade and feed for cattle. Carbon in soils can be increased in a variety of ways. When areas are otherwise empty, cover crops can extend photosynthesis throughout the year. Some of the trees that have been felled can be utilized to generate super-strong building materials, displacing cement and steel even more. The Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) Program is assisting successful lobbying and scaling up of shovel-ready and cost-efficient natural removal options.

3) Bioenergy with carbon sequestration and storage (BECCS)

BECCS is the process of using biomass for energy in the industrial, power, or transportation sectors, capturing the emissions before they are discharged back into the atmosphere, and then storing the captured carbon underground or in long-lasting products like concrete. As of 2019, five sites throughout the world were actively implementing BECCS technologies, absorbing about 1.5 million tons of Carbon Dioxide per year. BECCS could turn wastes like agricultural residues or rubbish into fuel in some cases. Because they do not necessitate specific land usage, these feedstocks could be crucial to the future of BECCS. Wide deployment of BECCS is limited by the cost and availability of biomass.

4) Capture of Direct Air

Direct air capture is a method of chemically removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it underground or in long-lasting goods. Direct air capture removes excess carbon from the atmosphere directly rather than absorbing it at the source. The temperature requirements of the two primary direct air capture systems in use today are considerably different. To release collected Carbon Dioxide, liquid solvent systems require 900 degrees C, whereas solid sorbent systems require 80 to 120 degrees C. As a result, solid sorbent systems can make use of low-grade waste heat. Direct air capture also necessitates significant heat and power inputs: removing 1 gigaton of Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere may use approximately 10% of today’s total energy consumption. To result in net carbon removal, direct air capture technology would need to be fueled by low- or zero-carbon energy sources.

5) Mineralization of carbon

The transformation of carbon dioxide into a solid mineral, such as carbonate, is known as carbon mineralization. When certain rocks are exposed to carbon dioxide, a chemical reaction occurs. The most significant benefit of carbon mineralization is that carbon cannot be released back into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide reacts naturally with several minerals, converting carbon from a gas to a solid. Carbon mineralization is a natural process that takes hundreds or thousands of years to complete. Carbon mineralization has been demonstrated by scientists, and a few start-ups are now creating mineralization-based construction materials, but additional research is needed to determine cost-effective and wise applications for scaled deployment.

6) Removal of Carbon Dioxide from the Ocean

Removal of Carbon Dioxide from the Ocean

Given its position as one of the world’s largest carbon sinks, the ocean cannot be overlooked. Much of our carbon emissions are destined to be stored in the ocean due to the slow cycle of carbon via the air, earth, and water. Climate change has emerged as the most danger to marine biodiversity and ecological health. Despite attempts to cut emissions and decarbonize the economy, catastrophic ocean ecological consequences are unlikely to be totally avoided without carbon dioxide removal (CDR). While a growing community of experts is looking into the ocean’s possible involvement in carbon dioxide removal, ocean-based CDR solutions are still primarily theoretical and have not been proven in the field. As a result, there is a growing sense of urgency to deepen our scientific understanding of the potential consequences of these proposals.

Each method for removing carbon has its own set of difficulties and restrictions. In the short term, grown seaweed can be utilized for items such as food, fuel, and fertilizer, which may not result in carbon removal, but could lower emissions and give an economic return that supports the industry’s expansion. Biodiversity, food security, resilience, livelihood, animal welfare, and other benefits are all gained because of these endeavors.

Published by ExoticVibe

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