Trees, big fans, and deep-rooted plants: How to suck 2 gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere
To have a chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, society needs to reach net-zero emissions by 2050—meaning that if we can’t transition to an emissions-free economy by that time, we’ll need to find ways to remove everything we’re still pumping into the atmosphere. In the U.S., even if society massively transforms in line with a “deep decarbonization” pathway, we’ll still have a gap that needs to be closed with so-called negative emissions tech, including trees and direct air capture machines that pull carbon from the air.
A new report from the nonprofit World Resources Institute looks at what it would take for the U.S. to be able to remove around 2 gigatons of CO2 from the air each year by 2050. It’s a huge amount, the equivalent of nearly a third of total annual emissions in the country in 2017. But it’s the scale that’s likely necessary to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The report identifies five ways to get there.