Is it more effective to trial carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies than to plant more trees? It’s the big question that governments, scientists and industry are battling over and while opinion remains divided, ecologists state loud and clear ‘we’re running out of time’.
CCS technologies aim to suck carbon dioxide from the air, or emissions from associated power plants, and trap it where it can’t do any harm – it’s clever stuff. Proponents of this method say that trapped Co2 could be stored underground, or purified to make products such as baking soda which is used for a variety of purposes including in the pharmaceutical industry and thus monetising the activity.
But carbon capture doesn’t come cheap – the equipment involved is hefty and the science and technology behind squirreling away Co2 so that it never reaches the atmosphere is remarkable.
CCS is clearly taking shape here in the UK in the form of developments at Drax in North Yorkshire and in Aberdeenshire, but while it is one solution for climate change, the capital expenditure makes it unfeasible for smaller businesses, groups and individuals.
PATT CEO, Dr Andrew Steel says: “The costs associated with CCS are astronomical and we’re unlikely to see delivery of results for up to 30 years. While success isn’t guaranteed with CCS projects, a tree will start removing carbon virtually straight away – it would be nonsensical then, to not turn to reforestation projects as part of the climate change solution.”
Although companies are likely to view trapped carbon emissions as essentially worthless, and therefore see little reason to invest in such technology, tree-planting is an obvious choice for businesses and smaller organisations. It’s cheaper, it’s a tangible product of a company’s corporate social responsibility commitment and yes, planting trees isn’t as much as a gamble as CCS – it’s the most natural and efficient form of CCS ‘technology’ there is.
Andrew continues: “The easiest, cheapest and least controversial method of tackling climate change, reducing our carbon footprint and ensuring our environment for decades to come is really very simple: plant more trees.”