Limiting emissions is one step towards the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) global goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade to avoid the effects of climate change. But realistically speaking we’re unlikely to eradicate emissions totally. Our modern lives mean that airlines will still fly, cars will still run on petroleum and we are going to continue to consume. So we also need to proactively solve the problem of removing, or sequestering, carbon from the atmosphere.


It’s Not Cheap

The US Congress passed a new tax rule, the 45Q, which gives a tax credit of 50 dollars for every tonne of CO2 which is trapped stored, so it’s no surprise that a few man-made solutions are beginning to emerge. However, right now they are pretty costly so carbon capture isn’t such a profitable business. The most common method is referred to as direct air capture, which uses large fans to blow air into machines that expose the carbon to minerals like basalt. The CO2 reacts with the small pores in the basalt and turns into physical minerals. Congress has set aside 35 million dollars to be used towards direct air capture but, at its current stages, it’s estimated that direct air capture runs at anywhere between 300-600 dollars a tonne. Scientists expect that to drop closer to 100 dollars per tonne as technology evolves but it’s still not a golden egg.


Plan Tree

Plan B then? Plant more trees, and stop cutting down the ones we have. It’s not rocket science. Well, not entirely true. Because there are certain trees that are better at sequestering carbon dioxide than others. If we consider trees as a climate tool, rather than reforestation, then it’s better to be planting trees that mature quickly and live for a long time. Sadly this is where things get a little confusing. The trees which are the best at absorbing carbon take longer to grow but then suck up more CO2 and stay alive for longer. So it’s a bit of a puzzle for foresters who are choosing to curate forests for the purpose of helping restore natural atmospheric balance.

According to forestry researcher, Dave Nowak, some of the best-known trees for gobbling up and storing carbon dioxide are the common horse chestnut, London plane, the black walnut, Douglas fir, scarlet and red oaks and bald cypress. In a report he published in 2001 he also noted that it was logical when planting forests to fight climate change, to plant tree species that need less maintenance, to avoid supplementary carbon emissions from the logistics needed to look after them.

The costs associated with planting trees to absorb and store CO2, when compared to direct air capture, is around 20 dollars per tonne. A more attractive option no matter how you look at it.


Look after what we already have

It takes time for trees to grow and mature to a level where they begin to make a difference climatically. And, it also requires land, which can mean problems. The battle between forest and agriculture is one that’s well documented and has been a contributing factor in the massive deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest.

Our existing forests though are probably one of the greatest forms of defence in the climate struggle. In the previous point, we noted the efficiency of a mature tree versus a young one. And we still have a lot of beautiful, mature forests left on this earth which needs our love.

We need to protect what we already have from being destroyed even more. It’s that simple.



Agriculture is often painted as the bad egg in our climate change scenario. But it doesn’t have to be. With a couple of alterations, it too could be using land as another of the planet’s climate heroes. When fields are not in use, farmers could plant ‘cover crops’ which can also remove carbon from the air. Again, even this is a cost-effective means of reducing CO2 in the atmosphere at between 20-100 dollars per tonne.

It doesn’t actually matter much how the carbon is removed and stored, the undeniable fact is that we need to be doing it in situ to cut down our emissions. The climate problem has no singular silver bullet, it’s a lot of elements happening at the same time that add up to the bigger picture of positive change. You and I are unlikely to be able to make our own direct air capture system in our own home. And we may not all have the ability to plant hundreds or thousands of trees. But there are grassroots organizations that are working tirelessly to remove as much carbon dioxide by planting trees and can excel in their efforts with a small, regular donation. And this is how you get involved now and make a change that will be felt tomorrow and for generations to come. There is hope when we all act now as one.

Author's Bio: 

I am Elianna Hyde, a freelance writer since 2009. I attended the University of California and graduated with masters in mass communication. I love watching TV shows, movies or anything that leads to entertainment. I always suggest unique and well-researched content.