Academics from the School of GeoSciences awarded funds on two research projects as part of a £8.6m UK research programme on greenhouse gas removal. New research will investigate ways to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to counteract global warming.
The University of Edinburgh is contributing to a major NERC-led initiative assessing the potentials for Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR), also known as ‘negative emissions’ to help mitigate climate change. Over the next three years, work in the School of GeoScience will help inform future decisions on meeting the targets of the landmark 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Paris Agreement.
Prof Simon Tett, working with Dr Vivian Scott and Dr Matthew Brander (Business School), leads a project which explores the climate and carbon cycle impacts of drawing down carbon dioxide some decades after it was emitted. Assessment of these consequences will then be distilled into measures to inform governments on the overall effectiveness of greenhouse gas removal.
Prof Mat Williams and Dr Saran Sohi will help assess the global potential for carbon dioxide removal into soil, as part of a consortium led by Prof Pete Smith at the University of Aberdeen. Soil carbon storage can be enabled by higher organic matter, storing biochar and/or forming carbonate minerals – but the potential synergies with water, plants and biomass would need to be optimised by location.
What is involved in Greenhouse Gas Removal?
Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) is suggested as a way of recapturing greenhouse gas emissions some time after they have been emitted to keep the total net emitted within a target budget. Impacts resulting from this pathway of emissions overshoot and recapture likely differ from those associated with pathways in which no capture happens even if the same total net emissions occur. These pathway-dependent impacts could limit the effectiveness of GGR to prevent climate change damage.
The project led by Prof Tett is a modelling study designed to assess the effectiveness of Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system and to inform climate policy choices and actions. It will develop metrics of carbon budget overshoot and subsequent GGR recapture – rate, length and amount – and relate them to impacts on the Earth System in a policy-relevant way. These metrics will be used to quantify and advise on approaches for the robust accounting for potential future GGR application.
More information on the NERC programme: NERC Greenhouse Gas Removal Programme