imgTechRemovalIcon Technological Carbon Dioxide Removal

Pull carbon dioxide out of the air with new technologies that enhance natural removals or manually sequester and store carbon. Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) technologies include: direct air capture, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), biochar, and others (but not including coal or gas CCS). CDR is not yet used widely, and most approaches face significant barriers to deployment.

Examples

  • Advancements in various CDR technologies through research and development and government policies.
  • Support from businesses, land owners, and general public to implement such technologies.

Big Message

  • Technological Carbon Removal has the potential to pull significant amounts of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
  • Most of these technologies are still undergoing pilot testing, and do not exist at the level needed to deploy at a large scale.

Key Dynamics

  • View the graph “Land for Carbon Dioxide Removal” and note the total amount of land area that all the approaches might require.

Potential Co-Benefits of CDR Growth

  • Nature-based carbon removal approaches like agricultural soil sequestration can help improve land holder and farmer profits in some cases.
  • The scale up of many carbon removal approaches would result in vast new industries and businesses which would create jobs.

Equity Considerations

  • Approaches like BECCS require large areas of land that in some cases could otherwise be used for food production.
  • Many of the technological carbon removal approaches have not been developed at scale yet and pose unknown risks and consequences to the communities they are situated within.

Slider Settings

status quo low growth medium growth high growth
Percent of maximum potential 0% to +10% +10% to +40% +40% to +70% +70% to +100%

Model Structure

The five methods of CO2 removal included are modeled independently. They each vary in their maximum sequestration potential, the year they might start to scale up, how long it takes them to be phased in, and the carbon leakage rate over time (stored carbon is not always permanent).

The default settings for the maximum potential of technological carbon removal (“% of max potential”) are sourced from the low range of the 2018 ‘Greenhouse gas removal’ report by the Royal Society (Table 2, chapter 2). For example, moving the simulator’s biochar slider to “100% of max potential” increases removals up to 2 Gton/yr, which was taken from the report’s range of 2-5 Gton/yr. For higher removal, one can adjust the “Carbon dioxide removal maximum” settings within the “Assumptions” view, up to the highest end of the range sourced from the same report. For example, the biochar maximum can be increased to 5 Gton/yr.

FAQs

Why aren’t coal and gas carbon capture and storage (CCS) included here, and how can I increase them? We think of coal and gas CCS as reducing CO2 emissions from coal and gas, not actually as removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Both can be changed in the Advanced View that supports the Coal and Natural Gas sliders.