Greenhouse gas sequestration and other geoengineering approaches to global cooling

In this section of the Climate Solutions Institute, we invite you to join us in thinking seriously about specific climate mobilization strategies, focusing on proposal and testing of methods to sequester greenhouse gases;  preventing their release into the atmosphere and/or removing them from the atmosphere.  Reminder:  the complexity and magnitude of the climate crisis demands that we be open to solutions from unexpected places.   For this reason, the Climate Solutions Institute is neutral ground that explicitly makes room for brainstorming.    Necessarily, this means that many proposals will be flawed and at times, this may be readily apparent to some readers.  But in the interests of capturing the benefits of brainstorming, personal attacks, and unnecessarily unkind arguments are strictly banned.  Therefore, we require that negative comments be self-limited to the presentation of hard data with citations whenever possible, or a simple statement of relevant facts without attitude.      

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  • commented 2016-03-13 23:53:53 -0400
    On the proposal for air capture of GhG by Klaus Lackner at The Earth Institute of Columbia University, K.S. Lackner, Capture of Carbon Dioxide from Ambient Air, 176 European Physical Journal Special Topics 93-106 (2009) …take a look at the analysis from the American university think tank at
    They write: “Many commentators believe that Lackner’s estimates for the cost of air capture are wildly optimistic, even assuming the effectiveness of the approach, so this could lead to an interesting discussion about the opportunity costs of pursuing research and deployment of this technology. Moreover, many of the questions associated with carbon capture and sequestration (potential danger of accidental releases of sequestered carbon dioxide, the need for a very large transportation network, and NIMBY issues associated with finding venues for storage) apply in this context also.”
  • commented 2016-03-13 23:12:28 -0400

    TCM asserts that we need immediate deployment of rapid climate change mitigation policies. As a backdrop to this policy assertion, it is worth noting that Anderson basically concludes that the gradualist approach will make it exceedingly difficult to achieve the 2050 goals.

    “Building on the concept of carbon budgets12-14 the following steps summarise a sequence of reasoning and transparent assumptions that suggest a profoundly different challenge to that dominating the current discourse on climate change.

    1) From the Copenhagen Accord12 in 2009 to the New York Climate Summit in 2014 political leaders have repeatedly reaffirmed their commitment to take the necessary action, informed by science15,16 to “hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius”15.

    2) The IPCC’s Synthesis Report reiterates their previous conclusion that “Cumulative emissions of CO2 largely determine global mean surface warming by the late 21st century and beyond”17.

    3) The Report proposes a headline carbon budget of 1,000 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (1000 GtCO2) for the period 2011 to 2100 and for a 66% chance, or better, of remaining below a 2°C rise18
    4) Energy-only CO2 between 2011and 2014 inclusive has totalled around 140GtCO2.

    5) To apportion the remaining 860 billion tonnes between the principal sources of CO2 emissions, i.e. energy, deforestation, and cement (process only), it is necessary to understand their relevant contexts. In a world genuinely committed to not exceeding the 2°C budget, it is reasonable to assume there exists a concerted effort to reduce emissions across all three emission sources.

    6) Against this backdrop, deforestation and land use change emissions for 2011-2100 are based on RCP4.519, the IPCC’s most ambitious deforestation pathway to exclude net-negative land use emissions. The total deforestation budget is therefore taken as ~60GtCO2.

    7) Turning to cement, whilst energy-related emissions are included here in total energy CO2, the substantial process emissions are not and so need to be considered separately. Industrialisation throughout poorer nations and the construction of low-carbon infrastructures within industrialised nations will continue to drive rapid growth in the process emissions from cement production (current ~7% p.a.20). An aggressive uptake of lower-carbon alternatives (including CCS) and more prudent use of cement could reduce some of this early growth, 21,22 but in the longer term, such emissions will need to be eliminated. Provisional and highly optimistic analysis building on recent process emission trends, 20,23 suggests such emissions could be constrained to around 150 GtCO2 from 2011 to their eradication later in the century.

    8) Consequently, the remaining budget for energy only emissions, for the period 2015 to 2100 and for a “likely” chance of staying below 2°C, is ~650 GtCO2.

    9) The political and physical inertia of the existing system will likely see emissions continue to rise until ~2020. Assuming there is an unparalleled agreement at Paris and energy-only emissions of CO2 reach a 2020 peak of ~37 GtCO2, a little under 180 GtCO2 will have been emitted between the start of 2015 and 2020, leaving a post 2020
    budget of ~470 GtCO2.

    10) This would demand a dramatic reversal of current trends in energy consumption and emissions growth. Global mitigation rates would need to rapidly ratchet up to around 10% p.a. by 2025 and continue at such a rate to the virtual elimination of CO2 from the energy system by 2050."
  • commented 2016-02-08 07:41:59 -0500
    For a lively and thoughtful discussion of geoengineering, take a look at
    where Andrew Maynard wrote:
    "Admittedly, there are international guidelines and agreements in place that already cover the responsible use of geoengineering to a certain extent. Included in these is the Convention on Biological Diversity, which cautions against ocean fertilization (for instance)—a key geoengineering approach to sequestering carbon dioxide. But what exists currently isn’t sufficient to engage people around the world in an integrated and informed debate over how to proceed appropriately.
    “The start of the Southern Ocean fertilization experiment was surrounded in controversy this week, but it went ahead anyway. Even though it involves releasing six tons of iron over 300 square kilometers of ocean, it is a triflingly small experiment compared to what could be on the books in the near future. If the global community are to get their heads around what is right and appropriate before the next big Earth-experiment comes along, now might be a good time to start working on geoethics for geoengineering—before it’s too late.”
  • commented 2016-02-08 07:11:53 -0500
    “Recent analysis suggests that the effectiveness of stratospheric aerosol climate engineering through emission of non‐condensable vapors such as SO2 is limited because the slow conversion to H2SO4 tends to produce aerosol particles that are too large; SO2 injection may be so inefficient that it is difficult to counteract the radiative forcing due to a CO2 doubling. Here we describe an alternate method in which aerosol is formed rapidly in the plume following injection of H2SO4, a condensable vapor, from an aircraft. This method gives better control of particle size and can produce larger radiative forcing with lower sulfur loadings than SO2 injection. Relative to SO2 injection, it may reduce some of the adverse effects of geoengineering such as radiative heating of the lower stratosphere. This method does not, however, alter the fact that such a geoengineered radiative forcing can, at best, only partially compensate for the climate changes produced by CO2.” From Pierce, J. R., D. K. Weisenstein, P. Heckendorn, T. Peter, and D. W. Keith (2010), Efficient formation of stratospheric aerosol for climate engineering by emission of condensible vapor from aircraft, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L18805, doi:10.1029/2010GL043975.

    see also
  • published this page in Climate Solutions Forum 2016-02-08 06:30:08 -0500