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Reuters: Is carbon removal critical to save the planet, or just hot air?

Indigenous Peoples protest against forest carbon offsets at the UN Climate COP in Bali Indonesia in 2007. Photo:

Mark Hillsdon’s September 27, 2023 article can be read in full on Reuters’ website.

The following are excerpts from the article: 

In the midst of their work researching a new global carbon trading system, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) group seemed to rule out a role for technologies such as direct air capture (DAC) and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) labelling them as: “Technologically and economically unproven, especially at scale, and pose unknown environmental and social risks.” 

There has since been damming criticism from others, such as Jonathan Foley, executive director of climate solutions specialist Project Drawdown, who has written that “industrial carbon removal is wildly expensive, far too energy- and resource-intensive, and only removes pathetically small amounts of carbon”.

Detractors also argue that the billions of dollars being spent on so-called “technofixes” should be channeled into existing, less expensive and proven solutions such as renewables, energy efficiency and planting trees. There are also questions about whether the technology can scale in time to make a difference and suggestions that elements could infringe human rights, as land currently used for food is turned over to growing fuel to be burned as biomass.

Since its statement in May, the UNFCCC has taken on board a wide range of comments and feedback, Dr Steve Smith, from Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, and co-author of the State of Carbon Dioxide Removal says, which suggests that carbon removal will still form a part of a new carbon trading mechanisms when details are announced at COP28 in the United Arab Emirates. 

NOTE: Click here to read more articles GJEP has shared about Carbon Markets and Carbon Offsets

You can also learn more by listening to Earth Minute: Carbon Offset Realities vs. Claims (Thurs, Feb 2, 2023)

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