Science 4 min read

Why Sinking More Carbon in Soils is Vital to Paris Climate Pledges

More intelligent carbon capturing in soils could drastically help nations in reaching their Paris Climate Agreements. | Image by Free Photos | Pixabay

More intelligent carbon capturing in soils could drastically help nations in reaching their Paris Climate Agreements. | Image by Free Photos | Pixabay

Through eight main steps, the promotion of soil carbon storage could help mitigate climate change effects and boost food security.

One of the solutions proposed to combat global warming is the sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Some Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies allow the collection of CO2, which can then be liquefied and transported through pipelines.

There are many large-scale CCS facilities around the world. The oldest, Terrell Natural Gas Processing Plant in west Texas, has been in operation since 1972.

All the carbon captured in these facilities is used to enhance hydrocarbon recovery. This is where plants inject carbon underground to increase pressure and force more oil up.

Currently in the world, there are three commercial carbon sequestration plants. These all belong to the Swiss company Climeworks that intends to sell carbon for some industries.

Read More: New Carbon Capture Technology Helps Reverse Climate Change

However, at each CCS step, the energy required results in CO2 emissions, which just leads us back to square one.

When it comes to CO2 sequestration, there’s nothing quite like the natural process. When trees pull carbon out of the air, they consume what they need, and transfer the rest to the soil.

Implementing this natural process is a crucial factor to achieving a low-carbon economy and meet the Paris Agreement pledges.

The World Needs More Carbon in Soils

Increasing soil’s carbon content by just 0.4 percent each year would eliminate the equivalent to all emissions of the European Union. In other words, it would take about 3.4 gigatonnes of carbon from the atmosphere.

This target is what led the 4 for 1000 initiative to be born in 2015 at the Paris COP 21.

The 4 per 1000 organization aims to promote soil carbon storage to face the rising challenges of climate change and food security.

“The aim of the initiative is to demonstrate that agriculture, and in particular agricultural soils can play a crucial role where food security and climate change are concerned.”

Leading climate and agriculture scientists in the world are calling for more sequestration of carbon in soils. They want this achieved through the implementation of agricultural and forestry practices and policies.

According to their article, Put More Carbon in Soils to Meet Paris Climate Pledges, published in Nature, there are just eight steps to take in order to increase global soil organic carbon stocks.

Eight Steps Towards Carbon Neutrality

1. Stop carbon loss: Nations can achieve this by protecting peatlands through regulations.

2. Promote carbon uptake: Setting and promoting best practices and techniques to store carbon in soils include “making sure the soil is planted all year round, adding crop residues such as mulch and straw or compost, and minimizing tillage practices such as plowing.”

3. Monitor, report and verify impacts: Implementing science-based tracking and evaluation of interventions is vital to monitoring our world’s climate and atmosphere.

4. Deploy technology: Cheap portable devices, satellite imagery, and automatic procedures are all needed to keep the initiative on track.

5. Test strategies: Using computer models and a network of field sites to test the effectiveness of different strategies would greatly help this project.

6. Involve communities: Involving the public through citizen science projects for faster collection of data would reduce the workforce needed for this task.

7. Coordinate policies: Nations need to ensure that political frameworks about soils use work in harmony with national climate commitments.

8. Provide support: Increasing soil carbon stocks through technical assistance, incentives to farmers, and carbon taxes are essential.

“We call on countries involved in the Koronivia process to establish a body to monitor soil carbon in farmland, map changes to it and reclaim degraded areas. All involved should focus on the eight steps set out [above],” said 4 for 1000 scientists.

You can learn more about the initiative from the video below.

Will it be easy to make increasing soil carbon a priority and achieve all the eight steps?

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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