What if one of the pathways to a post-carbon future is right beneath our feet? Decarbonization is the first step in curbing emissions that cause climate change. But natural climate solutions like carbon farming help draw down carbon dioxide already overheating the atmosphere. Getting it right begins with distinguishing between carbon sequestration methods that work and the more speculative, sometimes dangerous carbon capture plans for fossil industries.
65 PPM: A HUGE ROLE FOR SOIL CARBON CAPTURE
Carbon Farming Could Sequester Billions of Tonnes of CO2, with U.S. Pilot Project as One First Step
A concerted, well-supported effort by the world’s farmers to restore and protect soil health could reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide by as much as 65 parts per million (ppm) from the current, alarming level of more than 413 ppm, participants heard during an April 10 carbon farming webinar hosted by Washington, DC-based Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).
LAND USE AND NATURAL CLIMATE SOLUTIONS
Scotland Restores Degraded Peatlands to Boost Carbon Capture
As part of its pledge to achieve net zero emissions by 2045, Scotland has begun an ambitious program to restore its degraded peatlands, stating that the boggy ecosystems, which at present cover 3% of the planet’s surface, store twice as much carbon as all of its forests combined.
New Brunswick to More Than Double Protected Areas by End of 2020
New Brunswick is earning praise from conservation groups after promising to more than double its protected lands and freshwater, from 4.6 to 10% of the province, by the end of next year.
IPCC Land Use Report Draws New Attention to Soil Carbon, Regenerative Agriculture
In the wake of the IPCC land use report earlier this month, with its urgent focus on food supplies, soil conservation, and natural methods of storing carbon, follow-up news stories in the United States and Canada are tracing the steps farmers are already taking to shift their practices.
EU Urged to Draw the Line After Brazil’s Amazon Deforestation Increases 278% in July
An influential UK newspaper is calling on the European Union to step up and help prevent a global deforestation disaster, after Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research reported that Amazon rainforest destruction had “exploded” to an estimated 2,254 square kilometres in July.
Afforestation Would Sequester 18 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Afforestation—cultivating timber plantations on previously depleted land—comes in at #15 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. By sequestering carbon in timber, soil, and biomass, newly-planted forests can reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide by 18.06 gigatons, Drawdown calculates. And from an initial implementation cost of US$29.44 billion, a net operational savings of $392.33 billion is projected to grow.
Study Shows Huge Carbon Capture in Reforestation, But Scientists Debate the Numbers
Humanity could recapture about two-thirds of the carbon pollution it has poured into the atmosphere by restoring 2.2 billion acres/890 million hectares of forest cover around the world, according to a widely-disputed study of current and potential forestation published last Thursday in the journal Science.
U.S. Farmers Fall Far Behind on Planting After Record Midwestern Floods
After suffering through the wettest year on record, and with rain continuing to bucket out of June skies, American corn farmers are desperately behind on planting, with little relief in sight and their distress compounded by Donald Trump’s trade war with China and Congressional Republicans’ reluctance to provide flood relief.
Ottawa Announces $15-Million Lifeline After Ontario Cuts Successful Tree Planting Program
The federal government has tossed an emergency lifeline to Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program, committing C$15 million over four years after the Ford government suddenly cut the non-profit initiative in its 2019 budget.
Rainforest Destruction in Brazil Hit 10-Year High in May
Brazil recorded its worst rate of rainforest destruction in a decade over the crucial month of May, with the government’s own satellite imagery showing illegal loggers stepping up their activity under the deregulatory regime of President Jair Bolsonaro.
Invasive Earthworms Could Drive Up Carbon Loss from Forest Soils
Invasive earthworms are catching scientists’ attention as the latest threat to the ability of soils in the Canadian boreal forest to sequester carbon.
‘Rewilding’ Natural Habitats Restores Biodiversity, Boosts Carbon Storage to Address Climate Change
Restoration of natural habitats through “rewilding” is a key component of a rapid ecological transition, as both a “vital defence” against climate breakdown and a way to restore badly damaged biodiversity, the Rapid Transition Alliance argues in a post for Resilience.org.
Soil Health Emerges as Critical Climate Mitigation Tool as ‘Carbon Farming’ Takes Hold
The urgent need to restore the health of the world’s agricultural soils—for the sake of the food supply, and as a critical tool in climate mitigation—is one of the major themes of the global biodiversity report due for release today by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
Engineered Algae Could Produce 10,000 Barrels Per Day of Biofuel by 2025
The prospect of growing algae to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and produce nearly-carbon neutral diesel, petrochemicals, or bioplastics is moving gradually toward commercialization, with investors directing hundreds of millions of dollars into dozens of start-ups. One of those ventures, backed by genomics pioneer Craig Venter and colossal fossil ExxonMobil, says it’s on track to produce 10,000 barrels of biofuel per day by 2025.
Rural Leaders Must ‘Come Out of Their Foxholes’ on Climate, Farm Writer Urges
It’s time for the “sharp lawmakers and staff” on the U.S. House and Senate agriculture committees to bring their expertise on farm and rural policy to a discussion on climate change, DTN Agriculture Policy Editor Chris Clayton writes in a recent opinion piece for Progressive Farmer.
Reforestation Could Offset 10 Years of Emissions, But Countries Are Behind on Forest, Land Use Promises
After years of severely underestimating the number of trees on Earth, scientists are now calculating that a massive, global reforestation effort could offset at least 10 years of greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activity.
From Vegan to Paleo, Farm Practices Matter More Than End Product
A solution to the raging food wars between vegans, paleos, and everyone in between is to recognize that good, bad, or terrible farming practices are far more important than the end product that lands on dinner plates, according to a recent post on Resilience.org.
UN Fund to Help Peruvian Coffee Growers Combat Land Degradation in Latin America
A group of 2,400 small-hold coffee producers in Peru will be the first beneficiaries of a new United Nations initiative aimed at combatting land degradation that could displace 135 million people around the world by 2030.
100% Renewables, Land Restoration Can Meet 1.5°C Target Without ‘Unproven’ Geoengineering Techniques
A rapid shift to 100% renewable energy by 2050, combined with land restoration efforts to boost the resilience of natural ecosystems on every continent, would be enough to hold average global warming below 1.5°C without resorting to unproven and potentially dangerous “negative emissions” techniques, according to a two-year modelling effort conducted by 17 leading scientists and funded by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
Bolsonaro Decree Erodes Indigenous Rights as New Government Takes Power
In a decree issued hours after his inauguration as Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro moved to undercut Indigenous rights by shifting authority over new reserves to the country’s powerful agriculture ministry, in what The Guardian describes as “a symbolic concession to farming interests at a time when deforestation is rising again.”
Soil Provisions in U.S. Farm Bill Could Capture Carbon, Boost Crop Quality and Yield
A new focus on soil and carbon performance could make the 2018 Farm Bill adopted December 12 by the U.S. Congress an important tool in the effort to rein the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
‘Natural Climate Solutions’ Could Offset 21% of U.S. Emissions
A collection of “low-tech, time-tested forest, farm, and land management techniques” could offset 21% of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions, InsideClimate News reports, although it would take a carbon price of at least US$100 per ton for those strategies to meet U.S. targets under the 2015 Paris Agreement.
U.S. Farmers See Climate Impacts, Seek Sustainable Solutions, Despite Corn Belt Politics
While their politicians refuse to talk about climate change, farmers in Iowa are getting nervous about the climate impacts they’re seeing in their fields, as the conversation around “any cooperative elevator’s coffee table” turns to the weather, along with commodity markets and the impact of Donald Trump’s trade war with China.
‘Rewilding’ Ecosystems Could Cut Methane Emissions, Boost Forest Carbon Storage
Conservation scientists are taking a serious look at “rewilding” key ecosystems by reintroducing large species like lions and elephants, giant tortoises and donkeys, in areas where they once thrived. One of the 16 papers in a recent special series suggests the process could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Rapid Emission Cuts Would Reduce the Need for Carbon Removal Technologies: IPCC
While “carbon dioxide removal is necessary to meet the 1.5°C target,” the technique can’t substitute for deep emission cuts, and fast action on climate change will be needed to avoid the most harmful negative emissions technologies, The Sink and Mirror reports, in its summary of this week’s IPCC report on options for limiting average global warming to 1.5°C.
Harvard Investments Displace Communities, Harm Environment in ‘Billion-Dollar Farmland Fiasco’
Harvard University is under fire for a “billion-dollar farmland fiasco” in which its endowment fund is said to have bought up 850,000 hectares of productive land around the world, with severe consequences for ecosystems and the people who depended on them.
Diverse Forests Store Twice the Carbon, Improve Biodiversity, Compared to Monoculture Plantations
Multi-species forests can sequester twice as much carbon as monoculture plantations, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B.
Meat and Dairy Could Overtake Fossils as World’s Biggest Carbon Polluter
The meat and dairy industries are on a trajectory to overtake fossil fuels as the world’s biggest contributor to climate change, according to an analysis published last month by the non-profit Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and GRAIN.
New Report Cites Indigenous Peoples as ‘Forest Guardians Without Peer’
Indigenous forest dwellers—not governments with their own axes to grind, nor environmental groups in some countries that fetishize what they see as the primeval, unpeopled woods—will be the ones to save the trees and the rich web of life that depends on them, according to a recent report by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI).
Changing Climate Adds Urgency to Protect Habitats, Species
With climate change on track to become the greatest threat to global biodiversity before the end of this century, protected areas will become even more important than they are today as a way to conserve species and their habitats.
New Forest Accounting Method Shows EU Doing Better Than Expected
The European Union is adopting a new, more rigorous forest carbon accounting method “as the scientific basis for its overhaul of how the sector is treated in its climate strategy,” the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions reports.
Latest Low-Carbon Study Finds 100% Renewable Electricity Doable, Affordable
The latest scientific paper charting a course to a 100% renewable electricity system, now out in the journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Review, is largely a response to a previous study that questioned renewables’ ability to deliver grid reliability and stand up to severe weather.
Changes to Afforestation Program Undercut India’s Climate Goals
In a recent op ed for one of India’s leading newspapers, the Business Standard, climate activist Ranjan Panda argues the recent failure to consult Indigenous communities and other forest dwellers about important changes to the country’s afforestation program casts serious doubt over the government’s commitment to climate justice—and to its own climate goals.
1.5°C Is Doable Without Controversial Carbon Capture Technique, New Study Concludes
A new study in the journal Nature Climate Change is breaking new ground in the debate about how to limit average global warming to 1.5°C, suggesting for the first time that the target may be achievable with little or no reliance on a controversial and unproven “negative emission” technique, Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS).
International Forum Shows New Momentum for Agroecology
A sense of change and possibility was in the air earlier this month, when the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) held its second-ever international symposium on agroecology in Rome.
REDD+ Forest Project in Congo Harms Locals, Feeds ‘Carbon Profiteers’
International organizations are calling on the World Bank to suspend new investment in a climate finance project aimed at preserving the world’s second-largest tropical forest, after concluding that a lack of governance and regulation in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Mai-Ndombe Province makes the project a benefit for warlords and carbon profiteers—not the Indigenous communities whose land is at stake.
‘Mainstream Science’ Points to 50% Cut in Meat and Dairy by 2050
A new report by Greenpeace International calls for a 50% cut in production and consumption of meat and dairy products by 2050, reflecting the now accepted science that industrial agriculture is enormously destructive to the global climate, biodiversity, and human health.
Reduced Tillage Delivers Soil Health, Cuts Costs in U.S. Farm Country
Farmers worried about the economic toll of topsoil loss and declining fertility are finding common cause with ecologists anxious to reduce sediment load and pollution levels in a Minnesota watershed, reports the West Central Tribune.
Enhanced Weathering Could Sequester Carbon While Boosting Soil Health, Food Security
“Farming with rocks”, particularly silicates like basalt, could simultaneously help address climate change, soil health, and food security, according to a new paper in the journal Nature Plants.
UK Research Flags Practical Problems with 4 Per 1000 Soil Carbon Initiative
France’s “4 per 1000” soil carbon initiative, unveiled with some fanfare at the 2015 United Nations climate conference in Paris, could run into “severe limitations” in its practical application, the UK’s Rothamsted Research Institute concludes in a recent paper in the journal Global Change Biology.
Urban Forests Boost Well-Being, Save Megacities $500 Million
Planting just 20% more trees within city limits will add more than US$500 million in value for megacities like Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, and Tokyo, while improving the socio-economic, physical, and spiritual well-being of tens of millions of urban dwellers, according to a new study in the journal Ecological Modelling.
‘Regreening the Planet’ Could Cut 11.3 Billion Tonnes of Carbon by 2030
Tree planting, peatland protection, and better land use could deliver 37% of the greenhouse gas reductions humanity must achieve by 2030, according to a study this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Under-2°C Target is Still ‘Possible and Practical’ with Faster Deployment, RMI Modelling Shows
Keeping average global warming below 2°C is both possible and practical given the rapidly falling cost of renewable energy, the Rocky Mountain Institute concludes in a new analysis.
Agro-Forestry Helps Costa Rican Family Restore Their Soil, Diversify Their Farm
A Costa Rican farm family’s 25-year effort to keep their small coffee plantation, restore the soil, and regain their health is pointing to the long-term benefits of agro-forestry—even if it’s not the kind of quick, dramatic win that captures headlines in an era that expects split-second results.
Paying to Preserve Forest Carbon Depends on Human Motivation—And It Works
At the extreme, it’s been described as the “pay me or the jungle gets it” strategy. Even under the more genteel term of “payment for ecosystem services,” the practice is controversial. But it turns out, it works—both for the climate, and for the people that it compensates simply for maintaining existing forests.
Agroecology Delivers Antidote to ‘Climate-Smart’ Agriculture
Agroecology and food sovereignty have taken centre stage over the last five years in the global conversation about food and farming, providing a counterpoint to approaches to “climate-smart” agriculture (CSA) driven largely by large corporate interests and conventional modes of development, reports Michel Pimbert, executive director of Coventry University’s Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience.
Atmospheric CO2 Numbers Show Global Carbon Sinks Becoming Saturated
Record annual increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, despite a levelling off of humanity’s CO2 emissions in recent years, suggest the dire possibility that the globe’s oceans, soils, and vegetation are becoming saturated after years of absorbing up to half of the emissions humanity produces, the New York Times reports.
Better Farm Practices Can Rebuild Soil, Boost Carbon Sequestration
It’s time to stop punishing soils in search of ever-greater crop yields and introduce practices that can restore farmland and soil carbon retention through natural methods, U.S. Department of Agriculture researcher Rick Haney argued last week, in a wide-ranging interview with Yale Environment 360.
1.5°C Goal Will Require ‘Aggressive’ Growth in Renewables, Carbon Capture
Even aggressive renewable energy adoption and a rapid peak in fossil fuel production will produce unacceptably high levels of global warming by 2100 unless technology or natural systems sequester much more atmospheric carbon, according to a paper published last week in the journal Nature Communications.
Forests Are Key to Climate Mitigation, But Face Risky Future
Forests are a cornerstone of the global effort to get climate change under control, but drought and a variety of unsustainable practices are putting them at risk, according to a collection of research papers summarized this week by Climate News Network.
Soil Carbon Emissions Could Push Warming Beyond 2.0°C
Global warming may be turning the world’s soil into a carbon source rather than a sink, a development that could outweigh humanity’s best efforts to get climate change under control, according to a major synthesis of 49 empirical studies published last week in the journal Nature.
Monoculture Tree Plantations Hurt Communities, Undermine Paris Deal
Implementation plans stemming from the Paris Agreement could undermine biodiversity, rural communities, and the effectiveness of the landmark climate deal itself if they use carbon offset credits to pay for monoculture tree plantations, the Global Forest Coalition warned in a blog post last week.
Soil Carbon Sequestration May Take Thousands of Years, Not Decades
Soil may not be pulling as much carbon out of the atmosphere as scientists previously thought, according to a paper published last week in the journal Science. And “that could be a big setback in our global climate efforts,” the Washington Post reports.
Land Management Not Enough to Reduce GHGs from Agriculture
Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are on the rise, according to a new report based on United Nations data, with food production now accounting for 30% of global GHGs and 60% of human-produced nitrous oxide—a chemical that is 300 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
‘Cash for Carbon’ Program Helps Reduce Deforestation
Trading cash for carbon sinks could be a stunningly simple, affordable way to protect forests and slow atmospheric greenhouse gas releases, according to a new study by Uganda’s National Bureau of Economic Research.
African Traditional Practice Builds Fertile Soil, Stores More Carbon
The simple, centuries-old African practice of adding kitchen waste and charcoal to nutrient-poor tropical soil could be one of the keys to transforming depleted farmland into an “enduringly fertile” resource.
WWF Issues Urgent Call for ‘Scaled-Up Action’
Today’s signing ceremony for the Paris agreement must be followed by “fast plans for ratification and new, scaled-up actions” to put the world on a path to limit average global warming to 1.5°C, WWF argues this week in a release and a series of blog posts.
Forest Carbon Sinks Fall Short, But Soil Could Fill the Gap
A recent study has revised—for the worse—estimates of how much climate-altering atmospheric carbon the world’s landscapes can absorb. Another has suggestions on what to do about it.
Measurement Tool Tracks Forests’ Carbon Sequestration
The North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has released a tool it says can help solve one of the biggest uncertainties in the science of carbon budgeting: how much carbon is stored in, or released by, forests.
Loss of Biodiversity, Food Chains Can Hamper Carbon Sequestration
Animal biodiversity—including strategies to preserve top predators to prevent over-grazing by herbivores—could be an overlooked tool in the effort to sequester carbon and control climate change.
Rural Group Urges Closer Look at Climate Impact, Benefits of Livestock
An agriculture and rural coalition in Europe is asking a question that is controversial with many climate and environment hawks: whether livestock production is a part of the climate problem, or a part of a wider solution.
Paris Agreement Pushes Soil Carbon Efforts Toward Implementation
The push to enshrine soil carbon as a climate mitigation strategy exceeded all expectations at the United Nations climate summit in Paris, Courtney White of The Carbon Pilgrim reported on Resilience.org this week.
Lima-Paris Agenda Includes Action on ‘Carbon Farming’
An action plan signed during the UN climate summit in Paris last month includes the world’s first-ever commitments to include carbon capture in soil as part of the global response to climate change.
New Ag Practices Would Improve Soils, Sequester Carbon
France took advantage of the United Nations climate summit in Paris to promote its 4 Pour 1,000 Initiative, an effort to lock more carbon in the world’s soils by changing agricultural practices, particularly in developing countries.
Big Dollars Are Going Into Forests—But Do They Reach the Ground?
Billions of dollars flowed at Paris to support an awakening awareness of the role of forests in climate, as well as development, sustainability, and social justice. Africa, the world’s biggest continent, saw commitments of nearly US$5.5 billion made in two initiatives to afforest the drought-plagued Sahel region, and a swath of other sub-Saharan countries. Corruption, however, may leave some of those aspirations unfulfilled.
‘Climate-Smart’ Agriculture is ‘Spurious’: Report
Research groups from Canada and Germany have come out swinging against a big international initiative to harness genetically engineered crops for climate adaptation and mitigation. ETC Group, based in Ottawa, and Berlin’s Heinrich Böll Foundation urge negotiators in a report to reject so-called “Climate-Smart Agriculture,” backed by governments, industry, and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), as “specious.”
Lower-Carbon Iowa Embraces Solar, Wind, and Soil Improvement
A clean energy revolution is taking hold in Iowa, the New York Times reports, as “old story lines of denial and cynicism” give way to a sense of realism about the climate-induced flooding and erosion facing the state’s rural residents.
Bonn Summit Produces Surprise Agreement on Forests
Climate negotiators from about 190 countries reached surprise agreement last week on the UN’s Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Program (REDD+), clarifying steps that will be taken to protect indigenous communities and preserve biodiversity.
Carbon-Negative Practices Could Tackle Past GHG Emissions
Restorative farming practices and emerging products built from carbon-negative plastics could create opportunities for major carbon pollution producers to take responsibility for their historical emissions, even as they work to reduce their future greenhouse gas production.
CARBON CAPTURE AND GEOENGINEERING
German Engineers Make Substitute Steel, Concrete from Carbon-Storing Algae
German engineers have developed a process that turns algae into a carbon-sequestering replacement for steel and concrete that is as climate friendly as it is strong.
Webinar: 1.5°C Still Doable Without ‘Unproven, Dangerous’ Geoengineering
It isn’t too late to limit average global warming to 1.5°C without resorting to geoengineering, and deploying geoengineering technologies such as carbon capture storage (CCS) and solar radiation management (SRM) would be counterproductive and dangerously irresponsible, according to panelists at an April 25 webinar.
Solar, Wind Displace 35 Times as Much CO2 Per Year as CCS Has Ever Sequestered
Solar and wind energy displace roughly 35 times as much carbon dioxide each year as carbon capture and storage (CCS) has sequestered in its entire history, DeSmog Blog reports, citing a new analysis by CleanTechnica.
Carbon Engineering Raises $68 Million for Commercial Direct Air Capture Plant
Squamish, B.C.-based Carbon Engineering has received billionaire backing from Silicon Valley investors, netting US$68 million to build its first commercial-scale Direct Air Capture (DAC) facility to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
U.S., Saudi Arabia Scuttle International Bid to Regulate Geoengineering Technologies
The United Nations and Saudi Arabia were tagged as the biggest offenders late last week after the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), under pressure from high-emitting countries, failed to make any progress on a plan to look into the risks of geoengineering technologies and address the need for stricter controls over their development.
Switzerland Seeks Governance Model for Untested Geoengineering Techniques
Switzerland wants the world to talk about if and how to use untested technology that tampers with nature to slow climate change—and will ask the United Nations’ environment arm to take the lead.
Geoengineering techniques that reflect away sun rays and suck carbon from the atmosphere have long been talked about as last-resort solutions to stem the worst effects of climate change.
Exotic Carbon Capture Techniques Prop Up Fossil Interests, Aren’t Needed to Hit 1.5°C, New Study Asserts
The urgency and scope of the climate crisis are being needlessly exploited to drive fringe ideas like carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM) from the margins to the mainstream, according to a hard-hitting report issued last week by the Washington-based Center for International Environmental Law and Berlin’s Heinrich Böell Foundation.
Tropical Staple Trees Would Save 20.19 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Tropical staple trees rank #14 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. This option could eliminate 20.19 gigatons of atmospheric carbon dioxide at a cost of $US120.1 billion, producing savings of $627 billion.
Public More Concerned About CO2 Removal Techniques that Tamper with Nature
Public support for different methods of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere depends in part on the extent to which they’re seen to tamper with nature, a group of four researchers concludes in a new paper.
Carbon Capture Moves ‘Front and Centre’ as Climate Crisis Deepens
One of the countless side discussions at this year’s United Nations climate change conference in Katowice, Poland focused on the growing acceptance that some method of capturing carbon dioxide—from the atmosphere, or at the point where it’s first emitted—will be necessary to keep average global warming within 1.5°C.
IEEFA Sees Failure in Four North American CCS Projects
There’s no sign that the North American fossil industries’ attempts to develop viable carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology are paying off, and less justification than ever to keep up the effort, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis concludes in a report released last month.
Drax to Capture a Tonne of CO2 Per Day in BECCS Pilot Project
The 2.6-gigawatt Drax biomass- and coal-fired generating station in the United Kingdom is aiming for carbon-negative status with the launch of a carbon capture and storage (CCS) pilot project, a first of its kind in Europe.
Expert Panel Points to Breakout Potential in Direct Air Capture for Carbon
Direct air capture (DAC) techniques to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere may be on the cusp of the same drastic cost reductions that have brought solar, wind, and battery storage into the mainstream over the last decade, according to the chair of a recent U.S. expert panel on negative emission technologies.
Renewables Plus Direct Air Capture Could Deliver Net-Neutral Grid for Europe
The falling cost of renewable energy and energy storage, combined with the flexibility of Direct Air Capture (DAC) as a “negative emissions” option for sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, could point to a major opportunity to drive down carbon pollution and get climate change under control, according to a new paper in the open-access journal Earth’s Future.
Climate Home News Compiles ‘37 Things to Know’ About IPCC’s 1.5°C Report
The UN published a summary on the science of 1.5°C global warming on Monday. It’s a big deal.
Carbon Capture Companies Announce Milestones in Canada, Italy
Just as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a landmark 1.5°C pathways report that placed heavy emphasis on the need for viable carbon capture and storage methods, companies based in Switzerland and Canada are reporting progress on technologies designed to meet the challenge.
1.5°C Is Doable, but Just a Dozen Years Left to Get on a Low-Carbon Pathway
Humanity has a dozen years to hold off the accelerated risks of extreme heat waves, wildfires, flooding, drought, sea level rise, and extensive poverty that would result from 2.0°C average global warming by pursuing a tough but doable pathway to 1.5°C, according to a long-awaited science report released in Incheon, South Korea this morning by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
BECCS May Not Work as Negative Emissions Strategy, Study Concludes
Relying on biomass with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) to keep average global warming within 1.5°C could release more carbon from the land than it sequesters from the atmosphere, according to a new analysis in the journal Nature Communications.
Solar Geoengineering Could Drastically Cut Crop Yields, UC Berkeley Study Concludes
Efforts to reverse the effects of climate change through solar radiation management (SRM) could drastically reduce crop yields, offsetting any benefits agriculture would see if the controversial technique helped bring global warming under control, concludes a paper published last week in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.
B.C. Start-Up Delivers Air Carbon Capture at Less Than $100 Per Tonne
A cost breakthrough in drawing carbon dioxide out of the air might be in the offing in British Columbia, where Squamish-based Carbon Engineering claims in a peer-reviewed paper to have got the job done at one-third the cost of its competitors’ past attempts.
Energy Efficiency, Consumer Technology Can Deliver 1.5°C Without BECCS, Study Finds
Routine, day-to-day energy efficiency measures could play a major role in holding average global warming to 1.5°C and meeting many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) without resorting to the negative emissions technologies that feature prominently in more conventional 1.5° studies, according to a new paper published in the journal Nature Energy.
Geoengineering Tests Must Wait Until Safety, Human Rights Issues Are Addressed
A solar geoengineering experiment scheduled for later this year in the skies above Arizona must be put on hold until critical concerns about safety, accountability, and human rights can be addressed, a former United Nations climate specialist cautioned in a recent speech at Arizona State University.
Roberts Suggests Reality Check for 100% Renewables, Deep Decarbonization Targets
Veteran energy and climate writer David Roberts is out with a provocative look at whether it’s realistic to power the global economy with 100% renewable energy, and whether deep decarbonization is possible by 2100.
U.S. Congress Backs Subsidies for Geothermal and Biodiesel, Nuclear and CCS
A two-year budget bill adopted Friday by the U.S. Congress includes a number of “tax extenders” for renewable energy and nuclear technologies, as well as a “controversial tax break” to fund carbon capture technologies developed by the fossil industry, InsideClimate News reports. The tax extenders, designed to carry on temporary tax measures that have lapsed, “will provide significant incentives for people and companies to invest in low-carbon forms of energy, ranging from residential installations of solar water heaters and geothermal heat pumps to nuclear power plants,” InsideClimate explains. The broader budget package “will keep the government open for several weeks, […]
Saskatchewan Faces Tough Decision on Costly Boundary Dam CCS Plant
With a federal regulatory deadline looming, Saskatchewan is facing a tough choice: double down on the costly, not terribly efficient carbon capture and storage (CCS) experiment at its Boundary Dam power plant near Estavan, or shut down two aging coal-fired generating units and replace them with another, far less expensive electricity source.
Fossils at COP 23 Tout CCS to Head Off ‘Rapid Abandonment’ of Their Industry
The fossil industry has latched onto carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a lifeline for oil and gas production, DeSmog Blog concludes in a recent post, after observing activity at some of the side events during the United Nations climate conference in Bonn.
Trump’s ‘Clean’ Coal Boast Leaves Observers Baffled
After months of touting his affinity for so-called “clean” coal, Donald Trump left observers wondering whether he really understands the concept, after he name-checked the technology during a rambling speech to a campaign-style rally in Phoenix earlier this week.
Republican Split Over CCS Project Subsidy Could Be ‘Trump’s Keystone’
An experimental, US$3.8-billion synthetic gas project in Lake Charles, Louisiana is pitting pro-Trump businesses, congressional Republicans, and Breitbart News against the Tea Party and the Heritage Foundation, much as the fight over the Keystone XL emerged as a key fault line for supporters of President Barack Obama.
Leading U.S. Coal Baron Declares ‘Clean’ Coal a Myth
Murray Energy CEO and determined Donald Trump ally Bob Murray had a moment of truth late last month when he declared “clean” coal development through carbon capture and storage a myth.
CCS Plant in Zurich Captures 900 Tonnes of CO2 Per Year
A waste recovery plant in Switzerland has become the home of the world’s first commercial-scale Direct Air Capture carbon capture and storage system. The installation is expected to remove 900 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere per year, Fast Company reports.
Saskatchewan Admits to $60/Tonne ‘Implicit’ Carbon Tax for Boundary Dam CCS
Saskatchewan ratepayers are paying an “implicit” carbon tax of nearly C$60 per tonne to support the pricey Boundary Dam carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility in Estevan, Energy Minister Dustin Duncan said last week.
New U.S. Plant Captures Carbon from Corn Ethanol Production
An Archer Daniels Midland corn ethanol plant in Decatur, Illinois is being celebrated as the latest in a series of carbon capture and storage (CCS) installations that are sequestering CO2 from industrial processes other than coal generation.
‘Carbon Law’ Plan Misses the Mark on Climate Equity, Technology Pathway
A recent proposal for a new “carbon law” to halve greenhouse gas emissions every decade and deliver 75% odds of climate stabilization is taking serious criticism for failing to factor international climate equity concerns into its analysis, or to point toward a realistic technology pathway.
Coal Giants Seek CCS Subsidies by Keeping U.S. in Paris Agreement
Cracks are showing up in the U.S. coal industry’s opposition to the Paris agreement, with industry giants like Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, and Cloud Peak Energy looking for the country to keep its place in the global climate deal to extract new concessions and subsidies.
IEA Long-Term Plan Allows an Extra 180 Gt of Fossil Emissions: Oil Change Analyst
The International Energy Agency’s first attempt at a long-term scenario to keep average global warming “well below” 2°C allows an extra 180 gigatonnes of emissions between 2015 and 2050, the equivalent of 1,500 coal plants, Oil Change International Senior Advisor Greg Muttitt argues in a post on The Energy Collective.
King Coal Lobbies for CCS Subsidies
After years of taking their place among the fossil fuel funders of campaigns to deny and discredit climate science, three coal industry leaders have changed their views and say they want to be a part of the solution, the New York Times reports.
New CCS Process Would Capture 0.06 Mt of CO2 Per Year, Unsubsidized
A process to capture carbon from coal-fired generation and turn it into baking soda could sequester 60 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide per year, according to Carbonclean, the company in southern India that developed the process.
‘Hopelessly Flawed’ Carbon Capture Still ‘Essential’
The idea that humanity can suck back out of the atmosphere—or even from our own emissions—enough carbon to bring the Earth’s climate back into a stable equilibrium is “hopelessly flawed,” according to CBC business columnist Don Pittis. It’s also “essential.”
Boundary Dam CCS a ‘Carbon Dioxide Shell Game’: Pembina
Saskatchewan’s Boundary Dam carbon capture and storage (CCS) project is neither the cleanest of its kind, as its boosters claim, nor is it inexpensive, the Pembina Institute argues in an analysis published last week.
U.S. Clean Power Plan Could Hinge on Saskatchewan CCS Project
A key component of the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan could hinge on the commercial viability of a carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in Saskatchewan that is smaller than a full-scale plant, has seen serious cost overruns, incurred penalties for failing to deliver as much sequestered carbon as it was supposed to, and needed significant subsidies to get off the ground at all.
Fact Check: No, There Isn’t ‘A Thing Called Clean Coal’
Between hurling accusations at Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and looming menacingly behind her as she spoke Sunday night, Republican candidate Donald Trump took a moment near the end of the second U.S. presidential debate to declare: “There is a thing called clean coal.”
Promising CCS Process Turns CO2 Gas to Stone
Iceland appears to be making good progress with an approach to carbon capture and storage (CCS) that involves dissolving carbon dioxide in volcanic rock, according to a paper in the journal Science.
U.S. Pulls Funding for Troubled Texas CCS Project
The U.S. Department of Energy has suspended funding for a troubled carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in Texas, after its inspector general raised concern last month about Summit Texas Clean Energy’s ability to make the effort work.
Exxon Invests in Fuel Cell to Produce Power from Stored Carbon
ExxonMobil is pouring research and development dollars into FuelCell Energy, a Danbury, Connecticut company that is hoping to commercialize a process to capture and produce energy from the carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fueled power plants.
New Battery Design Could Pull Carbon Out of the Air
A research team at Vanderbilt University has come up with a new battery design that could pull carbon out of the atmosphere, turning electric cars into a carbon-negative option, according to a report in the online journal ACS Central Science.
CCS Promoters Shift Focus from Fossils to Industrial Uses
Carbon capture and storage advocates may be abandoning the fossil fuel industry as the most promising place to develop their technologies, judging by a report earlier this month on the Energy Post.
1.5° Goal in Paris Agreement Depends on ‘Veiled Techno-Utopia’
The “genuine triumph of international diplomacy” embodied in the Paris Agreement may have “sown the seeds of its own demise” by relying on carbon capture technologies like biomass energy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) that are no more than a veiled techno-utopia, veteran climate scientist Kevin Anderson argues in a post on Resilience.org.
Carbon-Negative Technology: It’s Not Your Grandparents’ CCS
A new generation of “carbon-negative” technology could be an important factor in meeting a new global goal of 1.5°C average warming that will almost certainly involve watching emissions exceed the limit, then finding some realistic way of removing excess carbon from the atmosphere.
Be Wary of ‘Science Fiction Solution’, Advocates Urge Climate Deciders
Decision-makers looking for elements of a global solution to climate change should be wary of a “net zero emissions” option that “is no more credible than expecting carbon-sucking extra-terrestrials to do the job instead,” warned UK-based Biofuelwatch in a study published during the United Nations climate summit in Paris.
Saskatchewan Pays $12 Million Penalty for Slow Production at CCS Plant
Saskatchewan has paid out $12 million in penalties to Cenovus Energy for failing to deliver sufficient quantities of captured carbon dioxide from its Boundary Dam Power Station near Estavan.
CCS Failure Could Trigger Algae Fuels Breakthrough
Algae-based fuels may be on the verge of a make-or-break moment, and Biofuels Digest says the outcome may depend on the increasingly clouded future of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.
New Nanofibre Process Could Pull Carbon Out of the Atmosphere
A chemistry professor at George Washington University in Washington, DC has come up with a process for sucking carbon out of the atmosphere and converting it into nanofibres, which can then be turned into composites suitable for sports equipment, building materials, and airliners.
Pessimism Mounts as CCS Fails to Deliver
The huge hopes attached to carbon capture and storage technology are gradually coming down to earth, with the high cost of the technology, the lack of financial incentives through a high carbon price, and the growing affordability of wind and solar all combining to keep proposed CCS plants on the drawing board.
Feds Tout $580 Million in Carbon Capture Spending
With a federal election less than four months away, a surrogate for Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford was in Saskatchewan last week to tout the $580 million the federal government has spent on carbon capture and storage (CCS) since 2008.
CCS Project Written Off as Just Another Fossil Fuel Subsidy
Saskatchewan’s Boundary Dam carbon capture and storage project, touted as a long-awaited demonstration of CCS technology, is nothing more than a billion-dollar subsidy to the fossil fuel industry, according to a report last week by Saskatchewan Community Wind.
Climate Gains from CCS ‘Look Pretty Slim’
There is “serious doubt among energy experts” that carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) will deliver any climate benefits, Grist reports after a months-long investigation.
Carbon Sequestration Less Effective Than Previously Thought
Underground carbon sequestration may be less effective than proponents previously believed, according to a study team at MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.
Four Major Utilities Abandon EU Carbon Capture Project
Four large European power companies are stepping away from the Zero Emission Platform (ZEP), a decade-long effort to demonstrate carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology.
Carbon Capture Project to Cost Saskatchewan Taxpayers $1 Billion Over 20 Years
Despite the fanfare that greeted the opening of Saskatchewan’s carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility October 2, the Regina Leader-Post calculates the venture will cost taxpayers $1 billion over its 20-year operating life.
PROJECT DRAWDOWN TACKLES NATURAL CLIMATE SOLUTIONS
Tropical Forest Restoration Would Save 61.23 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Restoration of Tropical Forests places #5 on the Drawdown list of climate solutions, with potential to cut atmospheric carbon dioxide by 61.23 gigatons by 2050.
Multi-Strata Agroforestry Would Save 9.28 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Multistrata Agroforestry places #28 on the Drawdown list of climate solutions, with the potential to cut atmospheric carbon dioxide by 9.28 gigatons by 2050, with an up-front cost of $26.8 billion but net savings of $709.8 billion.
Repopulating the Native Step Could Keep 1.4 Trillion Tons of Carbon Sequestered in Permafrost
Drawdown lists Repopulating the Mammoth Steppe as a Coming Attraction—one of a collection of climate solutions that are not yet ready for widespread adoption, but should be able to contribute to global decarbonization by 2050. The solution hinges on reintroducing herds of migratory herbivores to the Arctic regions of the world, where vast stores of carbon are locked in the permafrost.
Temperate Forest Restoration Would Save 22.61 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Temperate forest restoration places #12 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. The research team estimates that by 2050, temperate forests will naturally grow by 235 million acres and could sequester 22.61 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Living Buildings Would Revitalize the Environment, Build Community
Living buildings is one of the 20 carbon reduction options that Drawdown lists as Coming Attractions—strategies that weren’t ready for prime time when the book was published, but looked like promising approaches through mid-century.
Perennial Food Crops Could Boost Soil Carbon and Food Security, Reduce Deforestation
Replacing soil-depleting annual food species with perennial crops is one of the 20 carbon reduction options that Drawdown lists as Coming Attractions—strategies that weren’t ready for prime time when the book was published, but looked like promising approaches through mid-century.
Building with Wood Could Sequester Carbon, Produce Fewer Emissions Than Concrete
Building with wood is making a comeback, and is included in Drawdown’s list of “coming attractions” as a decarbonization option that hasn’t yet hit the mainstream, but could be a part of a wider set of post-carbon solutions by 2050.
Intensive Silvopasture Could Cut Methane Emissions, Boost Carbon Sequestration in Animal Agriculture
Intensive silvopasture is one of the 20 carbon reduction options that Drawdown lists as Coming Attractions—strategies that weren’t ready for prime time when the book was published, but looked like promising approaches through mid-century.
Regenerative Agriculture Would Save 23.15 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Regenerative Agriculture places #11 on the Drawdown list of climate solutions, with the potential to cut atmospheric carbon dioxide by 23.15 gigatons. It carries an up-front cost of US$57.2 billion, but promises savings of $1.93 trillion, by 2050.
Nutrient Management Would Save 1.81 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Nutrient management ranks #65 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions, with potential to eliminate 1.81 gigatons of carbon dioxide and save a total of US$102.3 billion by 2050.
Perennial Bioenergy Crops Would Save 3.33 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Increased cultivation of perennial bioenergy crops ranks #51 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions, with the potential to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide by 3.33 gigatons by 2050 at a net cost of US$77.9 billion, but net savings of $542 billion.
Coastal Wetland Protection Would Save 3.3 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Protection of Coastal Wetlands ranks #52 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. The strategy could reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide by 3.3 gigatons by 2050, as long as 75 million acres of these vital ecosystems (out of a total of 121 million world-wide) can be secured within the next 30 years.
Biochar Would Save 810 Megatons of Carbon by 2050
Accelerating the production of biochar ranks #72 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions, with the potential to reduce atmospheric carbon by 810 megatons by 2050.
Green Roofs Would Save 770 Megatons of Carbon by 2050
Green roofs rank #73 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. By the year 2050, an increase in green and cool roofs could save 0.77 gigatons of carbon at a net cost of US$1.39 trillion, while producing $988.5 billion in savings.
Silvopasture Would Save 31.9 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Silvopasture ranks #9 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. By 2050, the technique could eliminate 31.9 gigatons of carbon dioxide at a net cost of US$41.6 billion, leading to $699.4 billion in net savings.
Pasture Cropping Restores Depleted Soils, Improves Wood Yields
Pasture Cropping, where annual crops are cyclically planted in perennial pastures, is one of the 20 carbon reduction options that Drawdown lists as Coming Attractions—strategies that weren’t ready for prime time when the book was published, but looked like promising approaches through mid-century.
Forest Protection Would Save 6.2 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Forest protection places #38 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions, with the potential to avoid 6.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and sequester an astonishing 896.29 gigatons.
Microbial Farming Would Mobilize the ‘Intricate Ecosystems’ Beneath Our Feet
Microbial farming, which involves reseeding exhausted farmland with the diverse microbiome upon which productive soil depends, is one of the 20 carbon reduction options that Drawdown lists as Coming Attractions—strategies that weren’t ready for prime time when the book was published, but looked like promising approaches through mid-century.
Marine Permaculture Could ‘Reforest’ the Oceans, Draw 102 Gigatons of CO2 by 2050
Marine permaculture technology that seeds the world’s oceans with kelp forests while pumping up colder, nutrient-rich waters from the ocean depths is one of the 20 carbon reduction options that Drawdown lists as Coming Attractions—strategies that weren’t ready for prime time when the book was published, but looked like promising approaches through mid-century.
Farmland Restoration Would Save 14.08 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Farmland Restoration places #23 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. Restoring 424 million acres of abandoned farmland to rich agricultural life by 2050 would, after a total investment of $72 billion, sequester 14.08 gigatons of carbon dioxide while providing a financial return of $1.3 trillion—and an additional 9.5 billion tonnes of food.
Intensive Silvopasture Could Cut Methane Emissions, Boost Carbon Sequestration in Animal Agriculture
Intensive silvopasture is one of the 20 carbon reduction options that Drawdown lists as Coming Attractions—strategies that weren’t ready for prime time when the book was published, but looked like promising approaches through mid-century.
Indigenous Peoples’ Land Management Would Save 6.19 Megatons of Emissions, Sequester 849.4 Gigatons of Carbon, by 2050
Indigenous Peoples’ Land Management ranks #39 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. It can reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide by 6.19 gigatons and sequester 849.37 gigatons of carbon by 2050.
Bamboo Would Save At Least 7.22 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Increased cultivation and use of Bamboo places #35 on the Drawdown list of climate solutions, with potential to cut atmospheric carbon dioxide by 7.22 gigatons of carbon dioxide. It would cost US$23.8 billion, but savings of $264.8 billion by 2050.
Regenerative Agriculture Gives Farmers a Hedge Against Drought, Flooding
After four “disaster years” on his farm in Bismarck, North Dakota from 1995 to 1998, food producer Gabe Brown changed up the basic assumptions he brought to his operation—and ended up “something of a celebrity in regenerative farming circles,” Resilience.org reports.
Conservation Agriculture Would Save 17.35 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Conservation Agriculture ranks #16 on the Drawdown list of climate solutions. It would keep 17.35 gigatons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere by 2050 at a net implementation cost of US$37.5 billion, and bring US$2.12 trillion net savings.
Supporting Women Smallholders Would Save 2.06 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Supporting women smallholders ranks #62 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. It would reduce 2.06 gigatons of atmospheric carbon dioxide by 2050 and produce $US87.6 billion in net savings.
Tree Intercropping Would Save 17.2 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Tree Intercropping places #17 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. Intercropping on 571 million acres globally by 2050 would sequester 17.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide and, after a total investment of US$147 billion, save $22.1 billion over the 30-year span.
Peatlands Restoration Would Save 21.57 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050
Peatlands restoration is ranked #13 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. It can avoid 21.57 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. While data are too variable to permit a global accounting of costs, those hundreds of millions of acres of protected lands will permanently secure 1,200 gigatons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.