Huge gap in decarbonisation effort key to climate goals

BERLIN (AP) — Efforts to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere are not scaled up fast enough and cannot be relied upon to meet important climate targets, researchers say.

A report by scientists in Europe and the United States on Thursday found that new CO2 removal methods currently account for only 0.1% of the 2 billion metric tons absorbed from the atmosphere each year. This is roughly comparable to 37 billion tons of annual CO2 emissions.

Most current greenhouse gas removal is accomplished by planting trees and managing forests and other natural carbon sinks, which are themselves significantly threatened.

New carbon removal technologies involve direct air capture, where CO2 is absorbed from the atmosphere and stored underground. Another method, known as biochar, involves burning plant matter followed by burial of carbon-weighted waste.

Both have been heavily criticized by environmentalists despite receiving substantial funding from governments and companies seeking solutions to the climate crisis. Developing countries argue that their contributions to global carbon removal – mostly in the form of forests and land management – ​​are equally important and deserve greater recognition.

The study concludes that new carbon removal would need to increase 30-fold by 2030 to achieve the emissions reductions needed to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and ideally 1.5 C (2.7 F). . century.

Achieving ‘net-zero’ emissions by the middle of the century – a target many countries are aiming for and experts say is necessary to meet the targets agreed in the 2015 Paris climate agreement – ​​will require a 1,300-fold and several-fold increase in carbon dioxide emissions. The authors said countries have realistic plans to do this.

“We’re really significantly behind when it comes to decarbonisation,” said study co-author Jan Minx of the Berlin-based Mercator Global Commons and Climate Change Research Institute.

“If we want a solid strategy for meeting the Paris climate goals, then we need to curb reliance on decarbonization through rapid and far-reaching emissions reductions,” he said. “But at the same time, the expansion and development of decarbonization methods needs to be accelerated.”

Oliver Geden of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, who contributed to the report, said natural methods of carbon removal, such as afforestation, are currently more cost-effective than artificial methods. But there are limits to how much land can be devoted to forests, and rising global temperatures increase the risk of carbon stored in this way being re-released, for example, through forest fires.

He pointed to the rapid rise of solar and wind power plants as an example of how new technologies can have a measurable impact on climate change mitigation efforts.

The study’s authors say they plan to regularly publish a publication titled ‘The Carbon Dioxide Removal State’.

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