Reverse Emissions

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Richard Schiffman is optimistic about technologies designed to remove carbon dioxide from the air:

[Dr. Klaus Lackner] showed me a palm-sized mockup for an “artificial tree,” which mimics the photosynthesis of real trees by chemically sucking carbon dioxide out of the air. A single such tree-sized device left standing in the wind would remove one ton per day of carbon from the atmosphere, the equivalent of the greenhouse gases produced by 36 automobiles. This carbon-capture technology is not a risky geo-engineering scheme, according to Lackner. It simply amounts to cleaning up after ourselves, and repairing the damage that we already have done.

Ed King is cautious about large-scale deployment of these technologies:

While the essentials of [Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS)] technology are well understood, translating these into a commercial scale project has proved slower than many anticipated. Shell is building a billion-dollar CCS project linked to oil sands production in Alberta, but electricity producers are wary of investing heavily in the technology given high capital costs and reduced flexibility once it is in place.

With no global price for carbon, incentives for the private sector to invest are limited, although anyone who manages to make the technology work on a commercial basis is likely to be well rewarded.