Along with reduction and adaptation, carbon technology is the third pillar of climate action. In its simplest essence, these are technological approaches to preventing carbon from being emitted into the atmosphere or removing carbon from the air Carbon removal (CR) is also known as carbon dioxide removal (CDR), negative emissions technologies (NETs), and climate technology, it is comprised of seven different approaches. Here are a series of succinct definitions along with links to more detailed information for those who want to take a deeper dive into these technologies.
Carbon removal technologies are recognized by Article 6.4 of the Paris Agreement. The technology is also acknowledged by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a necessary part of climate technologies required to enable us to meet the goals laid out in the Paris Agreement.
Carbon technologies can be broadly understood as being comprised of a suite of technologies including carbon capture (CC) that takes carbon out of flue gases, carbon capture, and sequestration (CCS) also known as geosequestration, which locks emissions away, often underground*, carbon capture and utilization (CCU) that makes things out of captured carbon (anything from fuel to bulletproof vests) and carbon capture utilization and sequestration (CCUS) which uses captured carbon to extract more oil and gas from a well through a process known as enhanced oil recovery (EOR).
Rather than siphon carbon from flue gases at the source where they are produced, direct air capture (DAC), also known as direct air carbon capture and sequestration (DACCS) uses fans to remove CO2 from the ambient air. These different carbon removal technologies all work together to minimize emissions.
Carbon removal technologies can be assessed by their viability, scalability, and cost. The companies leading the carbon capture technology space include Climeworks, Global Thermostat, Carbon Engineering, Net Power, and Quest.
There is another approach to carbon removal known as natural climate solutions (NCS) which leverages natural processes like photosynthesis, to remove carbon from the ambient air. There are also a host of other approaches to carbon removal and a wide range of research directions are being explored.
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