Boris Johnson's chief adviser Dominic Cummings is backing a scheme to suck carbon dioxide out of the air using technology first used on World War Two submarines. The PM's advisor wants to spend £100 million on'direct air capture' (DAC) machines, which consist of a stack of metal'air scrubbers' that use a chemical solution to remove the CO2 from the atmosphere. The CO2-laden solution is then stored underground, reducing the amount of the greenhouse gas that reaches the atmosphere. The gas can be permanently stored in deep geological formations, or used to make fuels, chemicals, building materials and other products. The tech could help to offset emissions from energy-intensive sectors that are difficult to decarbonise, such as transport and aviation. And because the CO2 is being permanently removed from the atmosphere, the technology supports the UK's net zero emissions target for 2050.
Plans for the UK to become'carbon' neutral by 2050 have been released by Theresa May's government, but experts are concerned over how the proposals will work. The new report commits to ensuring that the emissions generated by the UK are offset by removing the same amount of carbon from the atmosphere. There are two main ways this can be achieved - by planting more trees and by installing'carbon capture' technology at the source of the pollution. Some critics are worried that this first option will be used by the government to export it's carbon offsetting to other countries. International carbon credits let nations continue emitting carbon while paying for trees to be planted elsewhere, balancing out their emissions.
Water rushes into Venice's city council chamber just minutes after the local government rejects measures to combat climate change. Wildfires consume eastern Australia as fire danger soars past "severe" and "extreme" to "catastrophic" in parts of New South Wales. Ice levels in the Chukchi Sea, north of Alaska, hit record lows. England sees floods all across the country. And that's just this week, as I write this. Human-caused climate change, and the disasters it brings, are here.
By any standards, last week's decision by Hitachi to end construction of its £20bn nuclear power plant at Wylfa in Wales was a major blow to Britain's prospects of creating an effective energy policy for the 21st century. The move follows a withdrawal by Toshiba from the construction of a similar project in Cumbria last year and leaves Britain struggling to find ways to generate electricity for a low-carbon future. Together, these nuclear plants would have generated 15% of Britain's electricity – without emitting carbon dioxide. Now the government faces serious questions about how its electricity pricing policies scuppered these two key pieces of UK infrastructure. More importantly, the nation needs to know, very quickly, how ministers intend to make up for this lost capacity.
Technology that can keep carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere and stoking global heating will be essential to tackle the growing climate crisis, experts say. But how does it work, and why will it make a difference in fighting climate breakdown? This refers to a chain of different technologies that can keep the carbon dioxide produced by major factories and power plants from reaching the atmosphere and contributing to global heating. The first step is to fit factory chimneys with solvent filters, which trap carbon emissions before they escape. The gas can then be piped to locations where it can be used or stored.