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Negative emissions refers to when greenhouse gases (like CO2) are removed from the atmosphere. It is a word that is common to hear in climate change discussions. For example, to keep global warming below the 1.5 degree target,  negative emissions are needed. This means that greenhouse gases will have to be captured and stored. Partly because greenhouse gases stay in the atmosphere for a long time, which means emissions will have to be taken out. Not only stopped.

Technics for negative emissions

One common technic to enable the above is called “Carbon Capture and Storage” – CCS. It is a technic that captures and stores greenhouse gases. Globally, there are about 20 functioning facilities of this kind today. The challange is mainly that the technic is very expensive. Still, the International Energy Agency, IEA, states that about 6000 miljon tons of CO2 will need to be stored by the year 2050. More so, negative emissions stand for about 12 % of the collected efforts to reach the goels of the Paris Agreement.
A forest captures greenhouse gases naturally, has the potential of creating negative emissions.

Natural solutions

Negative emissions can also be created in a natural way. This is done by creating more biomas, planting more forests and/or planting alges in the oceans. However, the most logical solution would still be to actively decrease the emissions of greenhouse gases. More so, researchers have critiqued the general trust in technical solutions such as CCS. Partly because it does not deal with the issues of misstreating the earth and does not requiere people to change their lifestyles. But rather, people rely on futuristic technics to solve their problems.

In relation to negative emissions

Some of the solutions that are proposed for negative emissions is similar to a concept called geoengineering. This technic is widely questioned as it relates to complex and global issues. More so, since the knowledge around it is fairly limited. Another critique around this has to do with the inequalities of the world. Which could lead to some nations having more influence over the technics. This has been described as a kind of “climate-colonisation”, broadly refering to when the needs of richer nations is prioritised over the needs of porer nations.


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