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UN report says removing CO2 from atmosphere only way to save climate


Sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere is the world’s only chance to avoid climate change disaster, according to a report due to be released Monday.

The paper by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is expected to say that dangerous climate change will be avoided only if vast quantities of carbon dioxide are removed from the air, the Times of London reported.

“Carbon dioxide removal is necessary to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions globally and nationally,” a draft version of the summary report said, according to The Times. If “negative emission” technologies fulfill their potential, it continues, they could even enable a reversal of global warming.

However, carbon-capturing technology is nowhere near where it needs to be. Today, 19 operational plants capture only 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year, compared to the 36 billion tons the world produces annually, according to the report.

But the report, commissioned and endorsed by 195 governments, acknowledges that the only “negative emissions” strategy currently used on a mass scale is tree planting.

Scientists are working on other techniques, including air capture or giant fans extracting carbon dioxide from the air and storing it underground or converting it into jet fuel.

Other possible tactics, The Times reported, include fertilization of the ocean, a theoretical approach in which nutrients are added to the sea to stimulate phytoplankton that take up CO2 from the air, and “enhanced weathering,” in which crushed volcanic rock is spread over farmland to boost the soil’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide.


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