Tree, Sky and Aeroplane
Photo Credit: Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini

The idea behind carbon capture is to collect carbon dioxide and then try and deposit it deep in the earth. Ideally back into the reservoirs under the earth that were once filled with the fossil fuels that we’ve used. They kept their fossil fuels for millions of years so should keep the carbon dioxide for a long time too. Doing this at scale can slow or even reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and this means it could be used to slow down climate change.

One way of capturing carbon dioxide emissions is to put in special equipment to collect the carbon dioxide from cement works and steel manufacture, waste incinerators or even power stations. This is called point source carbon capture. This could help reduce emissions in the next couple of decades.

If we capture carbon dioxide from burning biomass for energy then it is possible to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Plants have naturally taken in carbon dioxide to grow. Collecting the carbon dioxide when the plants are burnt means we’ve indirectly removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Some people call this negative emissions technology because it can bring the amount of carbon dioxide in the air down a bit. This technology is called bioenergy with carbon capture.

Another way is to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere itself. This is called direct air carbon capture and is also a negative emissions technology. It is still in early development and, unlike bioenergy with carbon capture, it does not need large land area for growing crops. This could help reduce emissions over the rest of the century.

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Clouds in Sky
A number of technologies are being investigated to artificially extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere