Can we afford to suck carbon dioxide out of the air?
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Carbon dioxide is the number one cause of global warming. Last year, CO2 emissions reached a record high of 32 gigatons. If the world continues on the same path, temperatures will rise by at least three degrees Celsius.
Climatologists warn that global emissions must reach net zero by 2050 in order to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. It is now urgent to reduce C02 emissions, but some sectors of the company are difficult to decarbonise and residual emissions will remain in the atmosphere for millions of years.
So what if we pulled carbon dioxide out of the air? The technology already exists and is called "Direct Air Capture": air is pumped into a machine, a giant vacuum cleaner that traps C02. It can then be stored underground or even sold for chemical and construction purposes. One plant in Iceland is already pumping emissions out of the atmosphere, but critics say carbon capture technologies are not mature enough to be deployed on a larger scale and come with a hefty price tag.
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