Summary

Climate change is an enormous environmental, social, and economic threat to the United States. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from burning fossil fuels and other industrial processes are a major driver of this threat. Even if the world stopped emitting CO2 today, the huge quantities of CO2 generated by human activity to date would continue to sit in the atmosphere and cause dangerous climate effects for at least another 1,000 years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reported that keeping average global warming below 1.5°C is not possible without the use of carbon dioxide removal (CDR). While funding and legislative support for CDR has greatly increased in recent years, the United States does not yet have a coordinated plan for implementing CDR technologies. The Department of Energy’s CDR task force should recommend a governance strategy for CDR implementation to responsibly, equitably, and effectively combat climate change by achieving net-negative CO2 emissions.

Footnotes

  1. Solomon, S.; et al. (2009). Irreversible Climate Change Due to Carbon Dioxide Emissions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(6): 1704–1709. [↪]
  2. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (2018). Summary for Policymakers. Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5°C. Geneva, Switzerland: World Meteorological Organization.  [↪]