Carbon capture: Planting trees rather than bioenergy crops sucks more CO2 from the air

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Compared with capturing the CO2 released by burning bioenergy crops, planting forests will lock away more carbon while also causing much less water stress and pollution



Environment



4 May 2022

SHANKSVILLE, PA - MAY 20: For the 6th consecutive year ,volunteers plant trees in a field at the Flight 93 National Memorial as part of a re-forestation initiative in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on May 20, 2017. The volunteers added 11,600 new seedlings across 17 acres of reclaimed mining ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

A reforestation project in Shanksville, Pennsylvania

Jeff Swensen for The Washington Post via Getty Images

In the US, nearly twice as much carbon dioxide could be removed from the atmosphere by 2100 through planting forests than through growing bioenergy crops and capturing the CO2 emitted when the crops are burned. What’s more, growing forests would lead to fewer water shortages and less water pollution, according to a modelling study.

Many scenarios for limiting warming to 1.5°C or 2°C that are used in climate models assume that vast amounts of carbon can be removed from the atmosphere by growing …

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