There is widespread agreement in the scientific community that, even with substantial increases in energy efficiency, conservation, and the deployment of non-CO₂-emitting renewable energy technologies, CO₂ emissions are likely to continue to grow for the foreseeable future due to an increasing global population. Carbon sequestration is one set of promising technologies and actions to help in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Carbon Sequestration is the term used to describe a broad class of technologies for capturing and permanently sequestering, or storing, CO₂. Affordable and environmentally safe sequestration approaches could offer a way to help stabilize atmospheric levels of CO₂ at "a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system," a goal toward which 188 nations have pledged to work. Ways to securely store CO₂ in biologic materials (terrestrial sequestration
) or in deep underground formations (geologic storage
and/or combined with enhanced oil recovery
) currently are being studied in the U.S. and around the world. Terrestrial sequestration involves carbon storage in soils, including degraded soils (soils that have declined in quality), and in forests and agricultural land.
Scientists currently are testing these approaches to determine how sequestration can provide a safe, effective and efficient means of slowing the increase of, and eventually stabilizing, atmospheric concentrations of CO₂ over the course of this century. But before these technologies can be deployed on a wide scale, a number of questions need to be answered including:
- How much CO₂ can be stored and for how long?
- Can it be done cost-effectively?
- How should it be regulated?
- What are the best methods for measuring, monitoring and verifying the safety and efficacy of carbon sequestration?