News

‘Climate urgency’ may dampen public acceptance of carbon dioxide removal technologies

Jul 28, 2020

Researchers from the Understanding Risk research group at the School of Psychology have carried out a pioneering study to gauge UK and US public acceptance on the use of carbon dioxide removal technologies to tackle climate change.

The study is in response to the suggestion that the UK must deploy novel approaches to removing C0from the atmosphere if it is to meet its commitment of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Novel approaches include the use of carbon dioxide removal technology such as enhanced terrestrial weathering for which public and societal acceptance is critical.

Principal investigator for the study, Professor Nick Pidgeon of the School of Psychology said: “I have worked for almost 20 years on the difficult challenge of how to engage publics ‘upstream’ with novel and emerging environmental technologies about which they may know very little, and in order to promote more socially sensitive environmental science and policy. It is therefore very pleasing to see the methodological and intellectual foundations of that work reflected in the outcomes of this important research effort to develop novel ways of addressing climate change”.

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Volcanoes can help to combat climate change

Jul 27, 2020

Spreading volcanic rock dust on farmland sounds a highly unlikely way to help to combat climate change, but studies show crushed rocks can soak up carbon dioxide from the air, and as an added benefit may also boost crop yields.

Volcanic basalt rock is one of the most common rocks in the world. As the rock weathers naturally it absorbs carbon dioxide, turns into carbonate that eventually ends up as limestone and permanently locks away the carbon. Grinding the rock up into dust simply increases its surface area and accelerates the natural process of absorbing CO2.

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This Solution to Runaway Emissions Starts With Crushed Rocks

Jul 14, 2020

The idea, often referred to as “enhanced rock weathering” (ERW), is among a handful of negative-emission technologies beginning to gain traction as the world struggles to lower greenhouse gases. The idea is simple: Grinding up certain types of rock and spreading them across a large land area can accelerate the Earth’s natural rate of carbon absorption.

Prior to our work, the evidence [on ERW] was scattered,” says David Beerling, Director of Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation at the University of Sheffield. “Our study is the first detailed, comprehensive analysis of what it might deliver for carbon capture if deployed at scale.

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Farming Today: Green recovery and the budget, Rock dust and soil, clean river swimming

Jul 9, 2020

Prof. David Beerling, Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation, takes part in an interview with BBC Radio Four’s Farming Today programme to discuss the potential for large-scale CO2 removal via enhanced rock weathering with croplands, published in Nature.

Listen in at 03:40

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Applying rock dust to farmlands could suck up 2 billion tons of CO2

Jul 8, 2020

Carbon dioxide drawdown strategies that can scale up and are compatible with existing land uses are urgently required to combat climate change, alongside deep and sustained emissions cuts,” said Professor David Beerling, Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation.

Enhanced weathering has the advantage of being a relatively accessible technique” said Professor Steven Banwart, a partner in the study.

The practice of spreading crushed rock to improve soil pH is commonplace in many agricultural regions worldwide. The technology and infrastructure already exist to adapt these practices to utilise basalt rock dust. This offers a potentially rapid transition in agricultural practices to help capture CO2 at large scale.

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A sprinkle of rock dust could help avoid catastrophic climate change

Jul 8, 2020

Spreading rock dust on cropland around the world could save around a tenth of humanity’s ‘carbon budget’, the amount of carbon dioxide we can afford to emit without triggering catastrophic levels of global warming.

Earth’s three biggest CO2 emitters – China, the US and India – have the most to gain from the strategy, which is known as enhanced rock weathering (ERW). Rocks naturally absorb CO2, but ERW accelerates the process by grinding them up to increase their surface area.

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Spreading rock dust on fields could remove vast amounts of CO2 from air

Jul 8, 2020

Spreading rock dust on farmland could suck billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air every year, according to the first detailed global analysis of the technique.

The analysis, published in the journal Nature, estimates that treating about half of farmland could capture 2bn tonnes of CO2 each year, equivalent to the combined emissions of Germany and Japan.

CO2 drawdown strategies that can scale up and are compatible with existing land uses are urgently required to combat climate change, alongside deep emissions cuts,” said Professor David Beerling, of the University of Sheffield, a lead author of the study. “ERW is a straightforward, practical approach.

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News & Views: Removal of atmospheric CO2 by rock weathering holds promise for mitigating climate change

Jul 8, 2020

Large-scale removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere might be achieved through enhanced rock weathering. It now seems that this approach is as promising as other strategies, in terms of cost and CO2-removal potential.

Achieving targets for mitigating global warming will require the large-scale withdrawal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Writing in Nature, Beerling et al. report that enhanced rock weathering in soils has substantial technical and economic potential as a global strategy for removing atmospheric CO2.

Read the paper: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2448-9

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Dr Maria Val Martin awarded prestigious UKRI Future Leadership Fellowship

Apr 23, 2020

LC3M Senior Scientist, Dr Maria Val Martin, is honoured to be one of four scientists at the University of Sheffield recognised for conducting outstanding research at the forefront of innovation in the UK and awarded a Future Leadership Fellowship by the funding body UK Research & Innovation (UKRI).

Future Leaders Fellowships are prestigious funding schemes that aim to develop a strong supply of talented individuals that are needed to boost research and innovation across the UK.

Maria will use the funding to launch the first UK integrated study into the environmental risks associated with large-scale deployment of land-based strategies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

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Blog: Beyond Carbon Pricing: Policies for Carbon Dioxide Removal

Jul 26, 2019

What policies are needed to implement carbon dioxide removal? Read the latest blog from LC3M Researcher, Dr. Emily Cox at Cardiff University and Neil Edwards, Professor of Earth System Science at the Open University.

“A major concern is that whatever the state of readiness of negative emissions technologies or ‘NETs’, the policy frameworks that would be needed to implement CO2 removal are almost non-existent. However, as we show in a new paper in Climate Policy (Cox and Edwards 2019), there may be more policies for carbon dioxide removal already in existence than we previously thought.”

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