The panelists and other scholars are creating a body of research on both near-term opportunities for and long-term challenges associated with carbon removal technologies.

 

Rightsizing carbon dioxide removal

Assuming massive-scale deployment of carbon dioxide (CO2) removal technologies can be done relatively quickly with low costs and limited side effects is a risky bet for the future of the planet. Relying on bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) to achieve a temperature increase of only 2°C or less could require an amount of productive land equivalent to about 25% to 80% of total global cropland, up to about 8% of all of the land on Earth, putting climate mitigation against food security and other major issues of concern. However, there are near-term opportunities for BECCS at a modest scale with benefits for nature, people and technological development.

Geospatial analysis of near-term potential for carbon-negative bioenergy in the United States

An analysis of areas in the US suitable for biomass growth, CO2 storage sites, where they are co-located and what transportation is possible to get one to the other estimates that in the near term, BECCS could remove 100-110 million tons of CO2 annually, about 1.5% of total US emissions.

Near-term deployment of carbon capture and sequestration from biorefineries in the United States

An assessment of the technological and economic potential for carbon capture and storage at US biorefineries finds this form of BECCS is commercially ready and also profitable under the CO2 sequestration tax credits (45Q) in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. It's also viable under other financial incentives, such as California’s new CCS protocol for the state’s low-carbon fuel standard. Implementing CCS at biorefineries could be a way to catalyze CCS and support emergence of carbon-negative biofuels.

Unprecedented rates of land-use transformation in modelled climate change mitigation pathways

In modeled scenarios where we reach the Paris Agreement target of 2°C, yearly carbon removals involve transforming land into cropland at rates far outside our historical experiences with commodity-crop agriculture. These unprecedented rates kick up in the near term, two years from now, raising questions about feasibility.

Federal research, development, and demonstration priorities for carbon dioxide removal in the United States

Agencies in the US federal government relevant for funding research, monitoring effects, and regulating CO2 removal technologies are DOE, USDA, DOI, NOAA and NSF. Renewing intra-agency commitments to CO2 removal in these agencies or coordinating research prioritization across them can enable better research and commercial deployment.This could be done by executive order or Congressional mandate. The Farm and Energy Bills are potential legislative vehicles for this.

The global overlap of bioenergy and carbon sequestration potential

An analysis of carbon removal potential in regions overlying suitable geologic CO2 storage sites revealed that if only marginal agricultural lands are used, about 1 billion tons of CO2 per year could be captured and stored, only 10% of the levels in models that get the world to 2°C or less.Most overlying land is either forested or linked to food production. Countries including the US, China, Canada and Russia have the largest overlap potentials.

Forest offsets partner climate change mitigation with conservation

An analysis of California’s forest offsets programthat allows polluters to offset carbon emissions by paying forest owners to change the way they manage their land so trees will store more carbon shows the program works to change management practices and increase carbon storage.It also has many environmental benefits,including providing habitat for endangered species, and can serve as an example for other countries and states wanting to develop similar programs.

Managing cropland and rangeland for climate mitigation: an expert elicitation on soil carbon in California

An elicitation of soil science and carbon cycle experts aiming to understand if soil on California’s cropland and rangeland could be managed in a way to capture more carbon from the atmosphere revealed underlying uncertainties and very modest opportunities to contribute meaningfully to the state’s climate mitigation. However, with soil management changes like using biochar and composting, soil can help as a modest carbon sink for the state.