Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Carbon dioxide removal can lower costs of climate protection

Date:
April 12, 2013
Source:
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
Summary:
Directly removing carbon dioxide from the air has the potential to alter the costs of climate change mitigation. It could allow prolonging greenhouse-gas emissions from sectors like transport that are difficult, thus expensive, to turn away from using fossil fuels. And it may help to constrain the financial burden on future generations, a new study shows.

Directly removing CO2 from the air has the potential to alter the costs of climate change mitigation. It could allow prolonging greenhouse-gas emissions from sectors like transport that are difficult, thus expensive, to turn away from using fossil fuels. And it may help to constrain the financial burden on future generations, a new study shows. It focuses on the use of biomass for energy generation, combined with carbon capture and storage.
Credit: © Jόrgen Fδlchle / Fotolia

Directly removing CO2 from the air has the potential to alter the costs of climate change mitigation. It could allow prolonging greenhouse-gas emissions from sectors like transport that are difficult, thus expensive, to turn away from using fossil fuels. And it may help to constrain the financial burden on future generations, a study now published by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) shows. It focuses on the use of biomass for energy generation, combined with carbon capture and storage (CCS). According to the analysis, carbon dioxide removal could be used under certain requirements to alleviate the most costly components of mitigation, but it would not replace the bulk of actual emissions reductions. 

"Carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere allows to separate emissions control from the time and location of the actual emissions. This flexibility can be important for climate protection," says lead-author Elmar Kriegler. "You don't have to prevent emissions in every factory or truck, but could for instance plant grasses that suck CO2 out of the air to grow -- and later get processed in bioenergy plants where the CO2 gets stored underground."

In economic terms, this flexibility allows to lower costs by compensating for emissions which would be most costly to eliminate. "This means that a phase-out of global emissions by the end of the century -- that we would need to hold the 2 degree line adopted by the international community -- does not necessarily require to eliminate each and every source of emissions," says Kriegler. "Decisions whether and how to protect future generations from the risks of climate change have to be made today, but the burden of achieving these targets will increase over time. The costs for future generations can be substantially reduced if carbon dioxide removal technologies become available in the long run."

Balancing the financial burden across generations

The study now published is the first to quantify this. If bioenergy plus CCS is available, aggregate mitigation costs over the 21st century might be halved. In the absence of such a carbon dioxide removal strategy, costs for future generations rise significantly, up to a quadrupling of mitigation costs in the period of 2070 to 2090. The calculation was carried out using a computer simulation of the economic system, energy markets, and climate, covering a range of scenarios.

Options for carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere include afforestation and chemical approaches like direct air capture of CO2 from the atmosphere or reactions of CO2 with minerals to form carbonates. But the use of biomass for energy generation combined with carbon capture and storage is less costly than chemical options, as long as sufficient biomass feedstock is available, the scientists point out.

Serious concerns about large-scale biomass use combined with CCS

"Of course, there are serious concerns about the sustainability of large-scale biomass use for energy," says co-author Ottmar Edenhofer, chief-economist of PIK. "We therefore considered the bioenergy with CCS option only as an example of the role that carbon dioxide removal could play for climate change mitigation." The exploitation of bioenergy can conflict with land-use for food production or ecosystem protection. To account for sustainability concerns, the study restricts the bioenergy production to a medium level, that may be realized mostly on abandoned agricultural land.

Still, global population growth and changing dietary habits, associated with an increased demand for land, as well as improvements of agricultural productivity, associated with a decreased demand for land, are important uncertainties here. Furthermore, CCS technology is not yet available for industrial-scale use and, due to environmental concerns, is controversial in countries like Germany. Yet in this study it is assumed that it will become available in the near future.

"CO2 removal from the atmosphere could enable humankind to keep the window of opportunity open for low-stabilization targets despite of a likely delay in international cooperation, but only under certain requirements," says Edenhofer. "The risks of scaling up bioenergy use need to be better understood, and safety concerns about CCS have to be thoroughly investigated. Still, carbon dioxide removal technologies are no science fiction and need to be further explored." In no way should they be seen as a pretext to neglect emissions reductions now, notes Edenhofer. "By far the biggest share of climate change mitigation has to come from a large effort to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions globally."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Elmar Kriegler, Ottmar Edenhofer, Lena Reuster, Gunnar Luderer, David Klein. Is atmospheric carbon dioxide removal a game changer for climate change mitigation? Climatic Change, 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0681-4

Cite This Page:

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). "Carbon dioxide removal can lower costs of climate protection." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130412132403.htm>.
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). (2013, April 12). Carbon dioxide removal can lower costs of climate protection. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130412132403.htm
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). "Carbon dioxide removal can lower costs of climate protection." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130412132403.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) — Operators of recreational businesses on western reservoirs worry that ongoing drought concerns will keep boaters and other visitors from flocking to the popular summer attractions. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — An Arkansas man has found a nearly 6.2-carat diamond, which he dubbed "The Limitless Diamond," at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins