The latest Interface Focus issue focuses on carbon dioxide removal (CDR) – an important approach to addressing the challenges posed by climate change.
We spoke to the organiser of the issue, Dr Tamara Jane Zelikova at Carbon180 and the University of Wyoming, about what this means in practice and the importance of taking an inclusive, multi-stakeholder approach to deploying CDR solutions.
1. What is CDR and why is it important?
CDR represents a wide range of climate mitigation pathways that remove carbon from the atmosphere. These pathways can be engineered and nature-based, including land management to increase natural carbon sinks, enhance weathering processes, carbon capture and storage (from point sources and from the atmosphere), and blue carbon. As emission reductions continue to be insufficient to meet the Paris agreement goals, the importance of CDR has expanded in recent years. Nearly all climate models increasingly require carbon removal to limit warming to 2°C and all require large deployment of CDR to limit warming to 1.5°C. Though we know CDR is going to play an important role in helping decarbonize and draw down carbon emissions, where and how CDR will be deployed remain open questions.
2. What is the aim of this Interface Focus issue?
The aim of this Interface Focus issue is to present a more integrated approach to CDR. The articles in this special issue individually and collectively present a more holistic approach to CDR, one that brings together all the relevant disciplines from the start to inform how CDR approaches are developed and implemented in the real world.
3. How does integrating research from the physical, natural and social sciences help inform our approach to this topic?
The challenge before us is to incorporate all we have learned across all disciplines into guiding CDR deployment at the massive scale we need to meaningfully address climate change. We have to make sure the deployment of these critical climate solutions is guided by all the available knowledge. Because deploying CDR will require coordinated efforts from decision makers and stakeholders from every sector of society, multiple perspectives need to be considered, from technical feasibility, risk assessment, and cost to unintended consequences and governance to ensure CDR is deployed ethically, equitably and safely. That means all relevant disciplines will be integral and must be integrated.
4. What is the future for CDR research?
The future of CDR research is transdisciplinary. We have to create new conceptual, theoretical, methodological, and translational frameworks that integrate and move beyond discipline-specific approaches. Transdisciplinary research allows us to address the climate crisis and develop solutions that do not perpetuate the harms of our current systems.
Photo credit: Mira Nguyen