Climate change: LMU to coordinate national research program on CO2 removal

1 Nov 2021

Removal and storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide is regarded as a vital element of efforts to limit global warming

• In the BMBF-funded program “Carbon Dioxide Removal”, 10 joint projects will explore ways of extracting CO2 from the atmosphere

• Researchers will also tackle related ecological, technical, economic, political and social issues

In order to limit the ongoing rise in global mean temperature in line with the Paris Agreement's climate targets, massive reductions in CO2 emissions are essential. However, it becomes increasingly unlikely that the global emission reduction measures will be sufficient to attain this goal. “We must focus more also on the removal and storage of CO2 from the atmosphere,” says Professor Julia Pongratz, Chair of Physical Geography and Land-Use Systems in the Department of Geography at LMU. “Also in light of the goal of 'negative emissions‘, which Germany aims to reach following the attainment of greenhouse gas neutrality by 2045, ways must be found to capture more greenhouse gases than are emitted,” she adds.

Pongratz will coordinate the 20-million-euro program on “Carbon Dioxide Removal” (CDR), which is being funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) and begins on 1 November 2021. In 10 joint projects researchers nationwide will investigate the ecological, technical, economic, political and social issues involved in carbon dioxide removal. Together with established methodologies, such as reforestation, they will also study novel technological approaches to the problem. LMU will lead the CDRSynTra project, which is tasked with collating and integrating the results of the individual projects. “Our goal is to comprehensively evaluate the potential and the side-effects of the various CO2 removal methods in a consistent manner. This will provide the scientific basis for the development of a socially acceptable, and ecologically and economically practical combination of methods for the sequestration of carbon dioxide,” says Pongratz.

To effectively fulfill its coordinating role, CDRSynTra is divided into three research pillars – analysis of the Earth System, emission reduction and CO2 removal pathways, and governance and policy design. A comprehensive screening of the international landscape of CDR research will help to optimize the impact of the program's research. To ensure that the pathways envisaged for the mitigation of climate change are feasible, throughout the program, its researchers will engage in intensive dialog with stakeholders in the public sphere, industry and politics.

In addition to LMU researchers, representatives of the Climate Service Center Germany, the Deutsches Museum in Munich, the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research in Kiel, the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, the Institute for Climate Impact Research in Potsdam, and the German Institute for International and Security Affairs will participate in the CDRSynTra project.

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