The Institution for Mechanical Engineers (IMECHE) has renewed its calls for the support of technology that extracts carbon emissions from the atmosphere, known as geo-engineering.
released a statement on Friday calling for the Government to prioritise funding
, such as artificial trees, air capture machines and synthetic fuels, saying they hold the key to tackling CO2 emissions
from hard to manage sources, such as aircrafts, ships and industrial processes.
Calling for "greater leadership" from the UK Government on developing and expounding the benefits of geo-engineering, the IMECHE statement said governments across the world were struggling to meet the dual challenge of economic growth and emissions cuts
"Policymakers have largely ignored the potential contribution that can be made from the implementation of methods that can directly extract greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, from the atmosphere," the statement reads.
Tool in battle against climate change
IMECHE first published a report in 2009 that claimed geo-engineering could buy the world valuable time to decarbonise the global economy in the battle against dangerous climate change.
Its latest call comes in the wake of figures released last month by the International Energy Agency that suggest greenhouse gas emissions rose by a record amount last year, raising the spectre of a temperature rise of more than two degrees Celsius – the threshold above which scientists warn we risk catastrophic climate change.
IMECHE wants to see the Government support a number of carbon dioxide removal technologies, including machines that capture CO2 from the air and store it underground; artificial trees that absorb carbon from the air and bury it underground; and carbon recycling, where industries that need CO2 as a chemical feedstock for the production of products, such as fertilizer, source their CO2 from the air – thereby establishing a 'closed’ loop for the carbon.
The institution says the Government should support research to establish the cost and feasibility of air capture technology
and policies that that enable the adoption of negative emissions and carbon recycling.
"Technology like artificial trees, air capture machines and synthetic fuels may sound a bit science fiction, but currently these are the most feasible types of technology for dealing with difficult CO2 emissions," said the Institution’s head of Energy and Environment Dr Tim Fox.
"The UK needs to show leadership and provide funding for air capture research and development, as well as develop policy
to encourage businesses to invest in air capture and carbon recycling."
However, while the carbon dioxide removal techniques currently being proposed by IMECHE are considered to have relatively low uncertainties and risks, they are understood to be slow working, while other geo-engineering technologies, solar radiation management, are considered to be potentially dangerous.
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