Remediating the sky: the role of geoenvironmental engineers and applied geoscientists in geochemical carbon dioxide removal

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Abstract

The largest environmental remediation project in human history has begun – that of removing hundreds of billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere over the coming century. This removal, together with deep and rapid emissions reduction, will be essential in preventing dangerous climate change. This briefing introduces the field of geochemical CO2 removal (gCDR), which proposes to accelerate the natural reaction of atmospheric CO2 with rocks or anthropogenic materials. It also explores the critical role that geoenvironmental engineers and geoscientists will have in researching and deploying these technologies. While currently at an early stage of development, it is possible that gCDR will operate at a global scale (billion tonnes of CO2 per year) by mid/late-century, resulting in an industry that generates hundreds of billions to a trillion dollars in annual revenue, equivalent in scale to the present-day oil industry. The core technical competencies of this industry will be derived from geoscience disciplines requiring the contribution of thousands and possibly tens of thousands of workers globally. To realize these opportunities, our community needs to lead in the development of gCDR, help to pioneer its deployment, create standards for monitoring and verification, and incorporate gCDR into existing education programmes and professional development.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberqjegh2023-053
JournalQuarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology
Volume57
Issue number1
Early online date22 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2024

Keywords

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Geology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology

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