To prevent the most dangerous impacts of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions will have to reach net zero by 2050. That will require both deep cuts in emissions and the removal of remaining emissions directly from the atmosphere. Making that happen will take concerted U.S. innovation akin to a moonshot. In this case, it's a CarbonShot.
With global greenhouse gases on track to rise — again — to their highest level in history, there's increasing interest in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In just a year, carbon removal has gone from being seen as a "radical fix" to a necessary tool to address the climate crisis.
A new IPCC report found there could be significant benefits to land-based carbon removal, such as through afforestation and restoration. But if deployed incorrectly, these strategies could create greater pressures on land and compromise food security and ecosystem health.
When it comes to climate change, producing more oil seems counterproductive. But a technology called "direct air capture," by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, can lower emissions from oil until the day we get off fossil fuels.
Steep reductions in carbon emissions will be critical to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change, but that won’t be enough. Capturing and storing carbon already in the air must be part of our climate strategy in the United States and around the world.
Most climate change solutions focus on mitigation—ways to slash emissions as quickly as possible, such as by adopting renewable energy. But research shows these aren't enough. To prevent the worst impacts of climate change, the world will need to reach net-negative emissions, a point at which we're actually removing more carbon from the air than we're putting in.