Climate Action

UK launches first research programme on greenhouse gas removal

The UK has launched a £8.6 million national research programme to investigate how to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, the first of its kind

  • 26 April 2017
  • Websolutions

The UK has launched a £8.6 million national research programme to investigate how to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, the first of its kind. 

According to the Carbon Brief, the public money will fund projects that explore the real-world potential of “negative emissions” technologies (NETs).

These NETs include soil carbon management, afforestation, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) in addition to enhanced weathering and direct capture of methane from the air.

One researcher told the Carbon Brief NETs will “almost certainly be needed” to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The new programme is designed to investigate the potential of NETs, as well as the political, social and environmental issues surrounding their deployment.

Professor Tim Wheeler, Director for Science & Innovation at NERC, said: "The UK research community is addressing the challenges of climate change by providing world-leading, independent research to inform decision-making that will ensure future wellbeing and prosperity for the UK and internationally. “

He went on to say: “This new Greenhouse Gas Removal programme will shed light on how new approaches could be used to prevent the effects of climate change, alongside reducing emissions, aligning with the UK's commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement. This multi-disciplinary research embodies the research councils' shared commitment to working together to provide vital answers to society's most pressing questions."

The 2015 Paris Agreement aims to keep global temperature rise well below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. 

The Greenhouse Gas Removal programme is jointly funded by the National Environment Research Council (NERC), the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

In addition, the Met Office and the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) are providing in-kind support.

A total of four interdisciplinary, multi-institute consortium and seven topic-specific projects have been awarded funding.

Roughly 100 researchers from 40 universities around the UK and partner organisations will be involved in the programme.

The four multi-institute consortium projects funded are:

  1. Soils research to deliver greenhouse gas removals and abatement technologies – led by the University of Aberdeen.
  2. Feasibility of afforestation and biomass energy with carbon capture storage for greenhouse gas removal – led by the University of East Anglia.
  3. Releasing divalent cations to sequester carbon on land and sea – led by the University of Oxford.
  4. Comparative assessment and region-specific optimisation of greenhouse gas removal – led by Imperial College London.

The seven topic-specific projects funded are:

  1. Greenhouse gas removal in the land sector - addressing the gaps – led by the University of Bristol.
  2. Greenhouse gas removal in the iron and steel industry – led by Cardiff University.
  3. Co-delivery of food and climate regulation by temperate agroforestry – led by the University of Reading.
  4. New methodologies for removal of methane from the atmosphere – led by Royal Holloway, University of London.
  5. Metrics for emission removal limits for nature – led by the University of Edinburgh.
  6. Harmonising and upgrading greenhouse gas removal consequential life cycle assessment – led by Cranfield University.
  7. Assessing the mitigation deterrence effects of greenhouse gas removal – led by Lancaster University.

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