6 Keys to Removing Carbon Dioxide from the Atmosphere • The National Wildlife Federation Blog

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reiterates in its Sixth Assessment Report March 2023that greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors will need to be cut by almost half by 2030 if warming is to be limited to 1.5°C. To achieve this, it is necessary to drastically reduce emissions from polluting sources including automobiles, power plants, industrial factories, among others, and combine these actions with strategies to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The removal of carbon dioxide refers to the different natural and technological methods to extract and capture CO2 of the air and prevent it from contributing to the greenhouse effect that causes the warming of our planet.

carbon dioxide removal, consists of absorbing CO2 from air. The best known natural forms are based on the process of photosynthesis, for example: reforestation and restoration of native grasslands. During this process, plants naturally absorb carbon from the air and store it in their roots and in the soil. Other ways to extract CO2 include: enhanced rock weathering, CO mineralization2 in new rocks, and the direct capture of CO2 in the air and ocean.

Oceans, forests, and soil are natural sinks or reservoirs that absorb and capture CO2 from the atmosphere through the carbon cycle. Due to increasing emissions from cars, planes, power plants and industrial factories, these sinks are reaching the limit of their capacity, while CO2 continues to accumulate in the atmosphere.

carbon dioxide capture, is another climate change mitigation strategy that uses technology to trap carbon before it reaches the atmosphere, that is, at its source. This technique is useful in industries that emit CO2 during their manufacturing processes, for example: in the steel or cement industry.

Carbon dioxide can be captured at the source of emissions with a chemical filter, which traps carbon before it enters the atmosphere. The filter is then heated to release the carbon, which can be compressed and shipped off-site for storage or reuse in industrial facilities. In this case, the captured carbon is permanently stored in underground geological formations.

Direct carbon capture from the air is a technology that uses chemical reactions to extract CO2 from air. Air moves over chemicals that selectively react with CO2 and trap it, allowing the other components of the air to pass through.

Removing carbon dioxide can help offset our legacy carbon emissions and advance principles of environmental justice and equity. It is necessary to evaluate the different methods to remove carbon dioxide and prevent it from continuing to contribute to the greenhouse effect that warms our planet. During this process, it is essential to take into account the protection of wildlife and our ecosystems.

U.S. Forest Service Coconino National Forest
6 Keys to Removing Carbon Dioxide from the Atmosphere • The National Wildlife Federation Blog 2

Most carbon dioxide removal methods are incipient and have not yet been tested on a large scale. In addition, the technology to remove carbon dioxide is expensive. Both the federal government, through tax credits, and the private sector through investments, are working to incentivize the removal of carbon dioxide. It is important to take into account the entire value chain of a project linked to the removal of carbon dioxide, including the energy source.

As an organization dedicated to conservation, National Wildlife Federation, supports natural carbon dioxide removal strategies. In association with The Nature Conservancy y American Forests, our organization, supports the restoration and reforestation of our national forests, through direct action and the promotion of public policies. As the carbon dioxide removal industry takes shape, the National Wildlife Federation is working to inform the public sector and industry about the different alternatives to eliminate CO2 of the atmosphere, and amplify the voices of communities in favor of environmental justice. Hereyou can learn more about the work of the National Wildlife Federation, about the management and solutions to carbon dioxide emissions.

You can read this blog in English here.

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