An environmental study released in 2021 underlined that the global goal of keeping global warming below a 2C temperature increase, from the pre-industrialized era, would require negative emissions. Negative emission is a process of removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it elsewhere, like oceans, underground, or the land.
To counter this, a slew of technological solutions termed Negative Emission Technologies (NETs) have been proposed. We shall discuss the four key advantages of the Negative Emissions Solutions here.
Locking Atmospheric Carbon with Biochar
Biochar is a type of charcoal obtained by burning biomass in the absence of oxygen. The carbon that has been absorbed into the biomass is incredibly slow to break down, taking hundreds or even thousands of years. Biochar effectively locks down atmospheric carbon while offering several other benefits such as enhancing soil fertility and acting as an effective method of waste disposal. Research shows that developing and implementing biochar has the potential to sequester 4.8 billion tonnes of CO2 annually.
Sequestering Carbon into Soil
Methods like wetland creation and grassland restoration have the potential to sequester large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and restore agricultural soils as carbon sinks. Centuries of farming and the usage of methods such as industrial fertilizers, crop burning, and intensive plowing have released the trapped carbon being oxidized into the air as CO2. It has been estimated that so far, 50-100 billion tonnes of carbon have been released from the soil into the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution. Many experts believe that making small changes to agricultural practices will also help sequester carbon from the atmosphere into the soil.
Removing CO2 Directly from Air
Direct Air Capture (DAC) is the process of directly removing CO2 from the air using various methods. One of the most common methods includes passing the air over a special liquid that captures all CO2 from the air leaving the rest of the air intact. Research estimates that DAC has the capacity to remove 85 MtCO2 by 2030 scaling up to 980 MtCO2 by 2050.
Biomass for Construction
Incorporating natural, plant-based materials into buildings can help store and preserve carbon for the building’s lifespan. Material such as hemp, bamboo, and timber can be effectively used to replace carbon-intensive products, such as concrete and steel. In the past, townhouses made of straw were released to the market in the UK and similar endeavors can be tried elsewhere as well.