Thursday, February 29, 2024

Carbon credits and carbon removal is set to accelerate resilience and adaptation

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According to UNFCCC: Carbon credits, also known as carbon offsets, are permits that allow the owner to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. One credit permits the emission of one ton of carbon dioxide or the equivalent in other greenhouse gases. These credits can be bought and sold on the international carbon market, allowing companies to offset their emissions by purchasing credits from other companies that have reduced their emissions below their allotted limit. The concept of carbon credits creates a market-based approach to reducing emissions, which incentivizes companies to reduce their carbon footprint and invest in clean energy. In recent years, the carbon credit market has grown significantly, with the creation of new carbon credit programs such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. Companies are now buying carbon credits in large volumes to offset their emissions and meet their carbon reduction targets.

However, there is growing concern that carbon credits alone may not be enough to address the climate crisis. This is where carbon removal comes into play. Carbon removal refers to technologies and practices that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in a permanent manner. Examples in plants, soils, oceans, rocks, saline aquifers, depleted oil wells, or long- lived products like cement. Carbon removal complements carbon credits by reducing the overall amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, rather than simply offsetting emissions. The deployment of carbon removal technologies has the potential to make a significant impact on reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and in turn, the effects of climate change.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Carbon removal is rising in prominence on the international stage. Repeatedly IPCC has affirmed that billions of tons of carbon removal are needed to avoid climate disaster and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Rather than competing with emissions reduction and climate change adaptation, carbon removal is increasingly seen as a vital and complementary third pillar of climate action. The UNFCCC notes that political importance of carbon removals is also increasing. UNFCCC then released a call for public input to shape how carbon removal fits into Article VI of the Paris Agreement. The removal of and subsequent sequestering carbon(iv) oxide contributes in permanently reducing climate risk by slowing or even reversing climate change. One of the most promising carbon removal technologies is direct air capture.

Direct air capture technology involves the use of machines to capture carbon dioxide from the air and store it in a secure location. Direct air capture has the potential to significantly reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through photosynthesis and store it in their wood and leaves. Reforestation and afforestation projects can help to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, while also providing other benefits such as reducing soil erosion, improving water quality, and providing habitat for wildlife. Additionally, the restoration of degraded or deforested land can improve the livelihoods of local communities, which can help to reduce poverty and improve resilience to the impacts of climate change. Carbon removal technologies also have the potential to help communities and countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. For example, by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, carbon removal can help to slow the pace of climate change, reducing the severity of its impacts.

In addition, carbon removal projects can create new economic opportunities, such as jobs in the development and deployment of carbon removal technologies, which can help communities to become more resilient to the impacts of climate change. The deployment of carbon removal technologies also has the potential to help countries to achieve their carbon reduction targets and achieve a sustainable future. In particular, carbon removal can help to mitigate the risks associated with relying on carbon credits alone to reduce emissions.

For example, if companies purchase carbon credits to offset their emissions, there is no guarantee that the emissions reductions claimed by the seller of the credits will actually occur. In addition, the carbon credit market can be subject to fraud and corruption, which can undermine its effectiveness in reducing emissions. Carbon removal technologies also have the potential to be more cost-effective than carbon credits over the long-term. While the upfront costs of deploying carbon removal technologies can be high, the long-term benefits in terms of reduced emissions and improved resilience are substantial.

In addition, the costs of carbon removal technologies are likely to decrease over time as the technologies are further developed and deployed at scale. In conclusion, the deployment of carbon removal technologies is set to play an increasingly important role in the fight against climate change. Carbon removal complements carbon credits by reducing the overall amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and has the potential to improve resilience and adaptation to the impacts of climate change. While the upfront costs of deploying carbon removal technologies can be high, the long-term benefits in terms of reduced emissions and improved resilience is substantial. The continued deployment of carbon removal technologies is an essential step towards a sustainable future and a resilient planet.

Dr. Edward Mungai
Dr. Edward Mungaihttp://www.edwardmungai.com/
The writer, Dr. Edward Mungai, is a global sustainability expert. He is the Lead Consultant and Partner at Impact Africa Consulting Ltd (IACL), a leading sustainability and strategy advisory in Africa. He is also the Chief Editor at Africa Sustainability Matters. He can be contacted via mailto:edward@edwardmungai.com

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