by Prachi Patel | Aug 3, 2017
Unless we drastically cut our carbon emissions, today’s young people will have to pay up to US$535 trillion to clean up the atmosphere, according to a new study. That’s how much it would cost them to remove carbon dioxide emissions from the air using negative emissions technologies to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
In 2015, 196 nations signed the Paris agreement to limit global warming to 2°C. But some experts believe even that won’t be enough to keep the climate from wreaking havoc. Hansen and his colleagues say that it would be better to bring carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere down from today’s 400 parts per million to a relatively safer 350 parts per million.
Reaching this goal won’t be possible just by limiting fossil fuel emissions, writes an international research team led by renowned climate researcher James Hansen, a professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, in the journal Earth System Dynamics. It will also require negative emissions, which involves sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
The most promising negative emissions technology is bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration. It involves growing crops that are burned to produce electricity, and capturing the resulting carbon emissions to store them deep underground. Another approach includes directly capturing carbon dioxide from the air. Neither technology has been tested at large scale.