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Sequestering, or carbon sequestering, refers to capturing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it. It is common to hear about it when talking about climate change. There is a great need to sequester the abundance of CO2 in the atmosphere today.

Sequestering carbon can occur both naturally and through different techniques. For example, carbon gets sequestered naturally in trees, plants, soils and the ocean. Therefore, it is possible to sequester more CO2 with changed land use- and forest practices. There are also Carbon Capture and Storage techniques.

Sequestering definition

As briefly mentioned above, the sequestering definition is the process of capturing or isolating something. In the climate change debate, scientists speak of carbon sequestering. It is crucial for climate change mitigation, which means reducing the impacts of climate change. CO2 stays in the atmosphere for 300-1000 years. Therefore, it is not enough to work on lowering or stopping emissions. We need to capture and bind CO2 as well.

Sequestering carbon naturally

When the sequestering of carbon happens naturally, it is called biological carbon sequestration. As briefly explained above, it is when carbon gets stored in the natural environment. It is known as an indirect or passive form of sequestration. However, humans can influence this process through activities such as reforestation. Or by changing land use and forestry, which implies changes in agricultural practices. Such as avoiding ploughing, which releases the CO2 stored in the soil.

The parts of nature that bind carbon are known as carbon sinks. The ocean, soil and forests are the largest ones. Therefore, it is crucial to protect them. For example, forests can only bind carbon as long as they stand. Naturally, the biggest threat to this is deforestation.

Sequestering carbon techniques

Carbon Capture and Storage – CSS – is a technology that stores and captures CO2. For example, it captures and stores emissions from industries. CSS is an ambitious alternative to reduce the impacts of climate change. The technology is also known as carbon storage and geological storage. It has been tested in the United States since 1972.

Carbon Capture and Storage is a process of three steps. First, the CO2 from human activity, such as an emitting industry, is captured. Then, the CO2 is transported to a storage facility, usually deep underground. Finally, it gets stored. However, this process is still under development today. At present, it is an expensive and complicated technology. Still, IPCC reports count on CSS to mitigate climate change. Many of the IPCC future scenarios rely on this technology. 

Sources: Britannica, NationalGrid


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