£8.6 million UK research programme on greenhouse gas removal

Apr 25 2017


New research will investigate ways to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to counteract global warming.

The UK is committed to the 2015 Paris Agreement to keep global temperature rise well below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1·5°C above pre-industrial levels. Alongside significant emission reductions, large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere could considerably increase the likelihood of achieving this goal. Researchers know there are ways to approach this challenge but they have yet to be demonstrated on scales that are climatically-significant. Major questions remain around their feasibility, as well as impacts on society and public attitudes.

To help answer these questions, the £8·6 million Greenhouse Gas Removal Research Programme will evaluate the potential and wider implications of a variety of options. For example, researchers will investigate the potential for increasing carbon storage in agricultural soil and forests, and new ways to remove methane gas from the air on a local scale. Other researchers will look into using waste materials from mining as a greenhouse gas removal technique, and explore how bioenergy crops could be used in power stations in combination with carbon capture and storage methods. Recognising that the UK alone cannot solve these problems, the research will address the political, socio-economic, technological and environmental issues concerning the potential for greenhouse gas removal on a global scale.

The programme is jointly funded by NERC, the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC), the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The Met Office and the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) are providing in-kind support.

Professor Tim Wheeler, Director for Science & Innovation at NERC, said, "The UK research community is addressing the challenges of climate change by providing world-leading, independent research to inform decision-making that will ensure future wellbeing and prosperity for the UK and internationally. This new Greenhouse Gas Removal programme will shed light on how new approaches could be used to prevent the effects of climate change, alongside reducing emissions, aligning with the UK's commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement. This multi-disciplinary research embodies the research councils' shared commitment to working together to provide vital answers to society's most pressing questions."

Four interdisciplinary, multi-institute consortium and seven topic-specific projects have been awarded funding. Around 100 researchers from 40 UK universities and partner organisations will be involved, and seven research studentships providing PhD training will also be supported.

NERC


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Issue 58 July - Aug 2017

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