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What if there was an efficient, cost-effective, and globally scaled technology that pulled carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere – or smokestack, or exhaust pipe – and safely stored it underground forever? What a game-changer! The politics around climate change would shift dramatically. Rancorous fights over emissions and temperature targets would become moot; the urgency for transitioning to a low-carbon energy system would diminish; and fears of impending global catastrophe would be allayed.
Unfortunately, this carbon removal and storage technology remains almost entirely speculative. Small-scale pilots are only beginning to illuminate the technology’s technical feasibility, cost, and associated impacts.
So why do plans for keeping global temperatures below 1.5°C depend on the deployment of this hypothetical technology? Large-scale carbon capture has become an implicit, but critical, component of many climate proposals. No less an authority than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change relies on unproven, uncertain carbon dioxide removal technologies to meet its ambitious targets.
Join Northeastern University professor Matthew Nisbet and the Institute for Carbon Removal Law & Policy for a discussion on a report in preparation, The Carbon Removal Debate: Asking Critical Questions about Climate Change Futures. The report works towards a common climate justice framework that can inform how various stakeholders think about, talk about, and act on this potentially transformative—but as yet still unproven—technology.
ASU Barrett & O'Connor Washington Center
1800 "I" Street, NW
Washington DC 20006