Author: Ieva Blazauskaite (Ivy Protocol, Marketing Lead)
To meet the climate goals outlined by the Paris Agreement, a unified approach, combining both Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) and Engineered Carbon Removal Solutions is crucial. The year 2023 stands as a testament to this synergy, with a plethora of companies innovating in the carbon removal terrain with a shared goal of fighting climate change.
“Meeting the recent pathways laid out by the IPCC will require total cumulative net carbon dioxide removals of 20–660 GtCO2 by 2100. This will require markets and governments to come together to invest significantly in sustainable business models. While challenging, this could also create an opportunity to build co-benefits including job growth, biodiversity benefits, and equitable growth” (as cited in McKinsey & Company, 2022).
Nature has been a silent guardian combating climate change and biodiversity loss for eons. According to the World Bank (2022), it is estimated that nature-based solutions have the potential to contribute 37% of the required mitigation measures until 2030 to meet the targets set by the Paris Agreement.
Today, numerous innovative companies are harnessing this age-old wisdom to create sustainable solutions:
Forestry initiatives, including afforestation, improved forest management, and reforestation, play a pivotal role in addressing climate change by sequestering carbon and restoring forest ecosystems. These nature-based solutions actively contribute to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and harnessing the immense potential of forests as carbon sinks.
By planting new trees and refining forest management, the NBS industry players are sculpting the “lungs of the Earth,” amplifying their carbon storage capabilities.
According to the Blue Carbon Initiative, “Coastal blue carbon ecosystems are some of the most threatened ecosystems on Earth, with an estimated 340,000 to 980,000 hectares being destroyed each year. It is estimated that up to 67% and at least 35% and 29% of the global coverage of mangroves, tidal marshes, and seagrass meadows, respectively, have been lost”.
As a result, many companies, as the guardians of our marine ecosystems are concentrating on Blue Carbon. They are actively preserving and restoring coastal systems, including mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes.
Biochar & Soil Carbon Capture
Biochar, produced through pyrolysis, is a carbon-rich material that enhances soil fertility and sequesters carbon. On the other hand, soil carbon capture methods involve conservation agriculture techniques such as reduced tillage, cover cropping, and agroforestry (Robert, 2001). These approaches help mitigate climate change, improve soil health, and promote healthier agricultural practices.
Companies are increasingly implementing various Biochar and Soil Carbon Capture practices to sequester more carbon in the soil.
Benefits of NBS
The beauty of NBS is threefold. They’re generally more cost-effective than engineered solutions, support biodiversity conservation, local livelihoods, and ecosystem services, and can adapt to changing conditions, enhancing ecosystem resilience.
The Engineered Carbon Removal
On the other end of the spectrum, we find tech-savvy carbon removal engineers. These innovators are creating technology to extract CO2 directly from the atmosphere or prevent its release in the first place.
Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage
Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) is a process that seizes carbon dioxide from bioenergy sources and permanently stores it away. At present, it only captures around 2 million tons of CO2 annually, primarily from bioethanol applications. Predictions from current projects at both preliminary and advanced stages suggest that carbon removal through BECCS could touch roughly 40 million tons per year by 2030. However, this estimate significantly trails behind the roughly 250 million tons per year that the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario projects to be removed via BECCS by 2030 (IEA, 2022).
Leveraging the process of “carbon mineralization” or “enhanced weathering,” scientists are innovating methods to expedite the naturally slow transformation of CO2 from gas to solid via mineral interaction, in this manner sequestering it from the atmosphere (Mulligan et al., 2023).
Direct Air Capture (DAC)
Direct Air Capture(DAC) is a groundbreaking technology that acts like a “high-tech sponge”, soaking up carbon dioxide from the air around us, then tucking it away safely underground or locking it into long-lasting materials like concrete (Mulligan et al., 2023).
The pioneers in Direct Air Capture (DAC) are working tirelessly to transform our air into a CO2-free zone.
Benefits of Engineered Carbon Removal
Engineered Carbon Removal solutions offer some advantages over nature-based solutions, such as their ability to achieve carbon permanence and provide precise measurements of stored carbon. They are scalable for large-scale deployment, can be targeted directly to major emission sources, and work harmoniously with NBS and other climate mitigation strategies.
However, it is important to consider potential exceptions to the permanence claim, as the utilization of carbon stores as a power source could result in the release of carbon back into the atmosphere. Additionally, the energy requirements of these technologies vary, with some relying on renewable sources while others raise concerns about sustainability. To ensure informed investment decisions, it is essential to address these challenges and work toward the effective implementation of carbon removal technologies (Rattenbury, 2022).
United We Stand: A Collective Effort to Move Forward
Nature-Based Solutions and Engineered Carbon Removal technologies are not rivals but allies in the battle against climate change. Their collaboration is not just beneficial but essential, forging a mutualistic alliance instrumental in achieving our global climate objectives.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underscores that there’s no silver bullet for climate mitigation and emphasizes the crucial need for a diversified, all-hands-on-deck approach, leveraging both NBS and engineered solutions (World Resources Institute, 2023). This mutual reinforcement between NBS and engineered solutions aligns with the global scientific consensus that a diverse portfolio of climate interventions is needed to effectively combat climate change.
We invite you to join us at Ivy Protocol. We’re building bridges to connect early-stage carbon projects with funding, and resources they lack. Together, we can turn the tide and move towards a balance between economic systems and the needs of a thriving planet.
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Gibbs, E., Mannion, P., Siccardo, G., & Patel, M. (2022, June 10). Now the IPCC has recognized that carbon removals are critical to addressing climate change, it’s time to act. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/sustainability/our-insights/sustainability-blog/now-the-ipcc-has-recognized-that-carbon-removals-are-critical-to-addressing-climate-change-its-time-to-act.
Harvey, F. (2023, May 17). World likely to breach 1.5C climate threshold by 2027, scientists warn. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/may/17/global-heating-climate-crisis-record-temperatures-wmo-research.
International Energy Agency. (2022). Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage. https://www.iea.org/reports/bioenergy-with-carbon-capture-and-storage.
Mulligan, J., Ellison, G., Levin, K., Lebling, K., Rudee, A., & Leslie-Bole, H. (2023, March 17). 6 Ways to Remove Carbon Pollution from the Atmosphere. Retrieved from https://www.wri.org/insights/6-ways-remove-carbon-pollution-sky.
Rattenbury, B. (2022, January 13). Tackling carbon emissions: Nature vs technology? Both! [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.sylvera.com/blog/tackling-carbon-emissions-nature-vs-technology-both.
Robert, M. (2001). Soil carbon sequestration for improved land management. Institut national de recherche agronomique. Retrieved from https://www.fao.org/3/bl001e/bl001e.pdf
The Blue Carbon Initiative. (n.d.). About blue carbon. Retrieved from https://www.thebluecarboninitiative.org/about-blue-carbon.
World Bank. (2022, May 19). What you need to know about nature-based solutions to climate change. Retrieved from https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2022/05/19/what-you-need-to-know-about-nature-based-solutions-to-climate-change.
World Resources Institute. (2023). IPCC AR6 Synthesis Report: Climate Change Findings. Retrieved from https://www.wri.org/insights/2023-ipcc-ar6-synthesis-report-climate-change-findings#:~:text=The%20IPCC%20finds%20that%20there,sooner%20%E2%80%94%20between%202018%20and%202037.