Carbon dioxide removals have emerged as a vital strategy in the fight against climate change. These measures are intended to capture CO2 from the atmosphere and secure it in durable materials, and, biological or geological repositories. The new carbon removals strategy will guide New Zealand on how it will remove carbon dioxide from the air and oceans.
Carbon dioxide removal involves technologies, practices, and approaches that remove and durably store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In this article, we explore the significance of carbon removals, their role in our emissions targets, and the exciting developments underway in New Zealand. The Importance of Carbon Removals Carbon removals are indispensable for meeting international and national targets for net zero greenhouse gas emissions. In the long run, post-2050, carbon removals will become the cornerstone of achieving net-negative emissions, which is essential to reversing the rise in global atmospheric greenhouse gas levels. The New Zealand government is actively working on carbon removal as a part of its climate change response.
This carbon removals strategy will provide a roadmap for determining the volume and types of removals needed to secure a sustainable future. Activities include wetlands restoration, as well as non-forestry-based sequestration of farms to extract carbon from the atmosphere to promote climate resilience and biodiversity. One of the promising benefits of a carbon removal strategy is that it goes beyond environmental considerations and benefits farmers, Māori communities, and conservation efforts.
The proposed carbon removal strategy has the potential to catalyze investments in a range of activities, including:
Vegetation Planting for Carbon Sequestration: Different types of vegetation can be strategically planted on farms to sequester carbon effectively, contributing to removal efforts.
Peatland Restoration and Wetland Re-wetting: The restoration of drained peatlands and the re-wetting of wetlands can capture substantial amounts of carbon and enhance climate change resilience.
Engineered Carbon Capture and Storage: Innovative technologies for direct carbon capture and underground storage hold promise for permanently removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
Presently, the majority of the carbon removals counted towards New Zealand's climate targets come from exotic forests. Other forms of land and their greenhouse gas emissions and removals remain unaccounted for, representing a substantial gap in our climate targets. Remarkably, New Zealand and Japan are the only developed countries that have yet to include emissions and removals from non-forest land in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Conclusion The road to a sustainable future is a collective effort. Therefore, the New Zealand government plans to open the draft carbon removal strategy to public consultation in early 2024. This engagement will be a crucial step towards shaping the nation's second emissions reduction plan. You can read the Cabinet paper here: https://environment.govt.nz/what-government-is-doing/cabinet-papers-and-regulatory-impact-statements/developing-a-carbon-removals-strategy/