From: Hannah Pell

“Get out there and make the world a better place.”

This ends the foreword to CDR Primer, an online, freely available digital brochure written by more than a dozen climate researchers, social scientists, engineers and writers in dialogue about carbon dioxide removal technology (CDR) and its important role in overcoming our problems Climate crisis.

CDR technologies – including carbon use or sequestration (CCUS), reforestation, and carbon-friendly land management – are used to remove carbon dioxide pollution, move it to a storage location, and dump it in such a way that it cannot re-enter the atmosphere. Carbon removal processes are typically characterized by three different methods: biological methods that use forests, agricultural systems, or marine environments to capture carbon; geological methods, deposition and storage of carbon underground or in rock formations; and carbon recovery, carbon capture and use to manufacture products such as plastic or cement.

Carbon Engineering’s design is said to capture approximately 1 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. Photo credit: Carbon Engineering.

The removal of carbon is critical as 15-40% of the carbon dioxide we emit remains in the atmosphere for nearly 1,000 years. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report on global warming of 1.5ºC, all possible ways to limit warming to 1.5ºC require a CDR to neutralize emissions from sources for which mitigation measures have not been identified and in the in most cases also to generate negative net emissions in order to regain global warming. ”

As more ambitious long-term neutral emissions targets hit the headlines (President Joe Biden’s clean energy plan aims for a 100% clean energy economy and net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest), we need to ask how we are going to handle them to achieve them . According to the authors of the primer, CDR is part of the puzzle. “Misunderstandings and uncertainties continue to hamper the development of equitable CDR implementation strategies.” It was important for scholars and policy makers to resolve such inconsistencies in vocabulary, concepts and frameworks regarding CDR technology in order to make significant advances in achieving our goals for to achieve clean energy.

The CDR guide covers not only the technical aspects of CDR systems and the quantification of emissions (Chapters 2 and 4), but also the current status of CDR (Chapter 5), how CDR is intertwined with social justice (Chapter 1) and global ways to increase CDR (Chapter 3). It is clear that finding effective ways to mitigate and even reverse the effects of our climate crisis is a complex and interdisciplinary task. The elucidation of the ecological, technological, social and economic consequences requires cooperation in many different areas. The challenges of our climate crisis are firmly rooted in the fact that it is a global problem that depends on localized efforts, strategies and measures, as well as the particular equity challenges that are required for a truly equitable energy transition.

CDR Primer is a discussion of CDR technologies, not a consensus. This work is very ongoing and changing. It’s an invaluable resource for those of us who want to learn more about what we can do to help the environment but don’t know where to start. “Finding out about such topics can help integrate this understanding into our global consciousness,” the authors write.

So take a few minutes (or a lot more!) To learn more about CDR with this accessible resource – and try to make the world a better place too.

Reference: J. Wilcox, B. Kolosz & J. Freeman (2021) CDR Primer


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