Carbon Removal: Why Ambitious ‘No Nonsense’ Plans Are Vital to Limit Global Heating to 2°C

Sep 21, 2023

2023 is proving to be a year of climate and weather extremes. Record-busting global air and ocean temperatures, unprecedented low levels of Antarctic sea ice, and devastating fires and floods have been reported across the world.

Less discussed by the world media is the continuing rise in atmospheric greenhouse gases driving these changes. Carbon dioxide (CO₂) is at a level not seen since the hothouse world of the Pliocene, 3 million years ago. On top of that, an El Niño event is now likely, so widespread extreme events may intensify in coming months.

Despite the changes we are seeing, global efforts to cut emissions fall well short of what’s needed to keep heating to less than 2°C, let alone the more ambitious Paris Agreement target of 1.5°C. This creates an urgent need for the purposeful removal of atmospheric CO₂ as well as cuts in emissions.

In a recent article in Nature, we argue for a different approach to pricing carbon. It should take into account how it is removed from the atmosphere, for how long, and with what confidence. This will help fund the most promising technologies for reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

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