Global removal of CO2 totals 2 billion tons per year

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About 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide are being removed from the atmosphere each year, according to a report published last Thursday (19), but almost all of this is done by forests, despite increasing investments in new technologies.

The independent report, led by the University of Oxford in the UK, is the first to assess how much CO2 the world is already removing — and how much more is needed.

He estimates that about 1,300 times as much carbon dioxide removal by new technologies — and twice as much by trees and soils — is needed by 2050 for temperatures to stay less than 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures, as set out in the Paris.

“CO2 removal is rapidly climbing the agendas,” said report co-author Steve Smith, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford. But despite growing interest and investment, “there are huge information gaps,” he added.

Removing CO2 involves capturing the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere and storing it for a long period of time, whether on land, in the ocean, in geological formations or in products.

To date, nearly all successful CO2 removals have been achieved through measures such as tree planting and better soil management.

From 2020 to 2022, global investment in new CO2 removal capacity totaled around US$200 million (about R$1 billion), according to the report, while around US$4 billion (about R$20 billion) have been channeled into publicly funded research and development since 2010.

While countries currently do not plan to use CO2 removal to meet short-term climate targets by 2030, many envision it as part of their strategy to reach net zero by 2050.

Report co-author Jan Minx of the Mercator Institute for Research on the Commons and Climate Change in Germany said that while reducing emissions remains the top priority for achieving the Paris target, “at the same time we need to develop and aggressively scale CO2 removal, particularly these new methods.”

He added that this will take time as “we are still at the beginning”.

Last December, the US Department of Energy allocated US$ 3.7 billion (R$ 19.3 billion) to finance CO2 removal projects. And the European Union aims to capture 5 million tons of CO2 annually by 2030.

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