Introduction: Can we undo climate change?

3 minute read

Updated on: 29 Jul 2021

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What if we could remove carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere fast enough to stop, and maybe even undo, climate change? Carbon removal would be like cleaning up pollution in the atmosphere. For this to work, CO₂ must be captured and stored safely and permanently, without emitting more along the way .

In this course, we’ll be looking at different methods of carbon removal to see how they work and what they cost.

How much carbon do we need to remove?

Since 1850, we have emitted about 2400 billion tonnes of CO₂ (GtCO₂) . Today, we are emitting around 42 billion tonnes (Gt) of CO₂ every single year! To avoid catastrophic global warming, we may need to find ways to remove this extra carbon from the atmosphere, while reducing our emissions in the first place.

There are two main types of carbon removal:

  1. nature-based solutions
  2. technological solutions

Nature-based solutions work to conserve, restore, and expand the ecosystems that absorb CO₂ from the environment . These solutions include:

  • Planting trees
  • Storing carbon in soil (soil carbon sequestration)
  • Storing carbon in ocean or coastal ecosystems (Blue carbon)

Technological solutions use technology to capture and store CO₂ from the environment, and include:

  • Enhanced weathering (grinding up certain types of rock)
  • Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS)
  • Direct air capture (DAC)
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Solutions to carbon removal

Before we look at complicated technologies, let’s look at how nature can help us with our carbon conundrum…

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