By Le Figaro with AFP
Posted 12 hours ago, updated 6 hours ago
Carbon dioxide removal techniques are now recognized as a necessary tool by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). acinquantadue/stock.adobe.com
A study by the University of Oxford on Thursday underscores that technologies to capture this gas, which is responsible for global warming, must make spectacular progress if climate goals are to be met.
Forests, catchment areas, peat bogs, machines… CO2 elimination projects are currently largely insufficient to meet international climate targets, requiring the massive and rapid development of innovative technologies, conclude scientists in the first global assessment on the subject. This study, published on Thursday 19 January (“The State of Carbon Removal”) and conducted by the University of Oxford, takes stock of the possibilities of capturing CO2 in the atmosphere to store it in the long term, for example thanks to recovery of forests or newer techniques such as the direct capture of CO2 from the air.
Innovative technologies – like the Climeworks plant, which removes CO2 directly from the air in Iceland – are currently extremely marginal. As a result, only what mankind produces in a few seconds is eliminated in a year. But these new methods need to grow “quickly” to stay within the scope of the Paris Agreement, the researchers say. According to the scenarios, their capacities are to be multiplied by a factor of 1,300 – or even more – by 2050. The authors conclude that “there is a gap between the level of CO2 removal planned by governments and what is needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement,” which calls for limiting global warming to well below 2°C and try to limit it to 1.5°C when the world is already at 1.2°C.
These carbon dioxide removal (EDC) techniques focus on the CO2 already emitted into the atmosphere and are therefore different from carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems at the source, such as at factory smokestacks. Today, EDC makes it possible to remove 2 billion tons of CO2 per year from the atmosphere almost exclusively thanks to forests (reforestation, management of existing forests, etc.), a fraction of the global emissions of around 40 billion tons today.
The researchers stress that these methods should not be seen as a magic wand that would dispense with reducing emissions. “Reducing emissions must always be a priority,” said University of Oxford’s Emily Cox during a presentation to journalists. “At the same time, we need to aggressively evolve and scale EDC, particularly these innovative methods. We are only at the very beginning with them and it will take time,” said Jan Minx from the Mercator Research Institute based in Berlin.
“Fertilize” the oceans.
EDCs have long been viewed as marginal or as a ploy by industry to avoid reducing their own emissions, and are now considered a necessary tool by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). For example, their models reserve an important part for the technique of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage: this consists of growing trees that absorb CO2 as they grow, then burning them for energy and burying the resulting CO2 combustion, for Example in abandoned mines. This particular technique, long proposed by the IPCC, is currently struggling to be developed and is faced with the lack of available land. One such plant from the Drax company in Great Britain, which imports wood from Canada, was awarded for its environmental performance.
Other EDC techniques are in various stages of experimentation and development: improving soil’s ability to sequester carbon, converting biomass into a charcoal-like substance called biochar, restoring peatlands and coastal wetlands, or crushing rock rich in CO2 -absorbing minerals is, for example, on land or at sea, and attempts are also being made to increase the CO2 absorption capacity of the oceans, for example by artificially increasing the marine alkalinity or by “fertilizing” the oceans, i.e. by increasing the density of the phytoplankton of the binds organic carbon through photosynthesis.
The authors of the study propose not to rely on just one of these techniques, but to have a “portfolio” of solutions, the composition of which will change over time depending on the resources, technologies and preferences of the moment. .
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