The £30 million ($42 million) project will test out five strategies for pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to fight climate change.
Hitting the Paris climate agreement targets will almost certainly need to include the ability to suck greenhouse gases directly out of the atmosphere and somehow store them. For the UK, reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is likely to require pulling an estimated 100 million tons of carbon dioxide out of the sky every year.
Therefore, last week, the UK announced the start of trials for five methods of removing planet-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to a statement from U.K. Research and Innovation (UKRI).
“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a priority for the UK, but it’s clear that alone that will not be enough to reduce CO2 and meet the UK’s net-zero climate target by 2050,” says Duncan Wingham, executive chair of the Natural Environment Research Council at UKRI.
“These projects will investigate how we can actively remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere using innovative technologies at the scale required to protect our planet.”
The country’s project is one of the biggest trials of carbon removal in the world, according to the Guardian. The project will explore techniques involving trees, peat, rock chips and charcoal on a 247-acre plot of land.
“This is seriously exciting and pretty much world leading,” Cameron Hepburn, an environmental economist at the University of Oxford who is the lead coordinator of the trials. Hepburn emphasized that carbon capture can’t replace efforts to reduce emissions and that both are vital to achieving the necessary goals.
“We are very alive to the possibility that companies will just use offsetting as greenwashing. Part of what this program is about is to develop the monitoring, reporting and verification frameworks to ensure that removals are genuine.”
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