The United Kingdom is testing ways to suck carbon dioxide directly from the air with trees, peat, rock chips, and charcoal since removing billions of tons of CO2 a year is crucial for the country to reach net-zero by 2050.
“Trees represent the most cost-effective way of removing CO2 from the atmosphere, while also delivering benefits such as enhancing biodiversity and recreational and health improvements,” says Prof Ian Bateman from the University of Exeter, who leads these trials. “You can start now, you just need land and plants. There is huge potential to make an immediate difference towards the goal of net-zero by 2050.”
The $43 million project funded by UK Research and Innovation will test ways to suck carbon dioxide over 100 hectares of land. It is part of a $156 million government program that includes trials for technology designed for the same purpose. For the country to reach net-zero by 2050, it would need to cut some 100m tons of CO2 a year. Trees could capture up to 13 tons of CO2 per hectare per year (ha/year), restored peatlands could store 10 tons of CO2/ha/year, and prevent the release of 30 tons of CO2/ha/year. As for rock chips, they could absorb a maximum of 13 tons of CO2 per hectare every year.