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Carbon capture will not be enough to halt climate change– 1st February

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A group of scientists have revealed that technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere will not be enough to meet climate targets.

Technologies which remove carbon dioxide from the air, also known as negative emissions technologies or NETs, will not work on the huge amount needed to tackle climate change a group of European scientists have warned. These negative emissions technologies include carbon capture, planting trees and carbon-friendly agriculture among others, and have been subject to a report by the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) which warns that these technologies risk damage to the environments or huge costs.

These NETs are an integral part of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) pathways to reach the targets in the Paris agreement in the second half of the century. This was due to predictions that reductions in CO2 will be too slow to reach the UN’s targets, so NETs would be used as a last push to reach zero emissions. The IPCC calculated after the year 2050, 12 billion tonnes of CO2 a year will need to be removed to reach current targets.

The report suggests that the reliance on NETs to reach the Paris targets is ‘optimistic’ based on current information, and that NETs shouldn’t be used to develop long term scenarios for climate change. The European science academies state that “relying on NETs to compensate for failures to adequately mitigate emissions may have serious implications for future generations,".

However, the report still supports the research and development into NETs as they still have the potential to contribute a smaller but still important role in tackling emissions.

Phil Williamson, from the University of East Anglia, said that “The main message is clear enough: don’t put off the clean-up for 50 years, as is currently the case in most emission-scenarios that avoid climate chaos.” and continues to express that the scaling-down of negative emissions technologies in climate models allows for the scaling-up of ambition to achieve net zero emissions with other additional technologies.

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