Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership

Carbon Sequestration, Climate Change, and CO2

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Balancing Energy and the Environment
There is concern that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activity (anthropogenic GHGs) are having an effect on the global climate. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the principal anthropogenic GHG. The amount of carbon from anthropogenic CO2 entering in the atmosphere has grown from a few million tons per year in 1850 to over 9 billion tons per year today.1 Anthropogenic CO2 emissions will double over the next half century if countries like China and India continue to develop in a business-as-usual way.

Should stabilization of CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere be deemed necessary, there would need to be a reduction in the amount of CO2 and other GHGs that are released by human activity. Reducing anthropogenic CO2 emissions with the goal of stabilizing the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is called CO2 management.

CO2 management is a complex issue because most of the anthropogenic CO2 comes from the use of fossil fuels for energy, and maintaining our energy flow is critical to our economy and our quality of life. Hear more about Balancing Energy and the Environment.

CO2 emissions can be reduced by energy conservation, the use of more efficient fossil fuel energy systems, increased use of renewable and nuclear energy, and carbon sequestration. Carbon sequestration, the capture and long-term storage of CO2 from the atmosphere or from anthropogenic CO2 sources, is emerging as a major strategy for addressing climate change concerns.

It will be a major challenge to reduce anthropogenic CO2 output while maintaining a strong economy. Experts agree that all options, from energy conservation to CO2 sequestration, will be needed over the long term to reduce anthropogenic CO2 emissions and the risk of climate change.2 CO2 sequestration will be an important part of this effort.2
References
  1. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/meth_reg.html
    (accessed November 2010).
  2. Pacala, S., and Socolow, R., 2004, Stabilization wedges-solving the climate problem for the next 50 years with current technologies: Science, v. 305, p. 968-972.