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New options to remove carbon dioxide from the environment


 22 October

Researchers at The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) have been working with members at several organisations to evaluate the benefits and risks associated with six different land-based greenhouse gas (GHG) removal options. Their findings have been published in a report.

Tiffany Hionas

Scientific analysis has highlighted the difficulties to achieve greenhouse gas emission neutrality solely through mitigation efforts. To compensate for this, land-based GHG removal options are being assessed for the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These options include afforestation or reforestation, wetland restoration, soil carbon sequestration, biochar, terrestrial enhanced weathering, and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage.

IIASA researchers studied the risks associated with these land-based GHG removal options and their impacts in terms of Nature's Contributions to People (NCP) and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). NCP is The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform, strengthening human wellbeing and sustainable development. The results indicated that all land-based GHG removal options delivered positive impacts; specifically, wetland restoration and soil carbon sequestration deliver positive impacts which could be taken up immediately. However, risk management is still needed for the other four options to ensure negative impacts including increased competition for available land are avoided.

Co-author of the report, Florian Kraxner, Head of the IIASA Center for Landscape Resilience and Management and deputy director of the institute's Ecosystems Services and Management Program explained, ‘For options that present specific risks at scale or those that are not as well understood, more research is required, and demonstration projects need to proceed with caution. For options that present low risks and provide cobenefits, implementation can proceed more rapidly following no-regrets principles.’

DOI: 10.1146/annurev-environ-101718-033129 

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