Climate experts help lead £30M emission removal project

Experts in carbon capture and climate law are to play a leading role in a £30 million project to develop ways of removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Stock image of two industrial chimneys

Two University experts will play a key part in the programme – the largest of its kind in the UK – that aims to help scale-up techniques that could aid efforts to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Professor Stuart Haszeldine from the School of GeoSciences and Navraj Singh Ghaleigh from the Law School are part of the six-person leadership team coordinating the multi-disciplinary CO2RE project.

Greenhouse gases

The five-year initiative will test the viability of techniques that have the potential to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. In the UK alone, around 130 million tonnes of carbon dioxide will need to be removed every year by 2050, the team says.

Researchers will examine a range of methods, including tree planting, peatland restoration and using a charcoal-like substance – biochar – to store carbon. The project will allow for the first time large-scale analysis of the effectiveness, limitations and cost of the methods.

The research team’s results will inform governments’ longer-term decision making on the most effective technologies to help the UK tackle climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Complex issues

The project – led by the University of Oxford – will bring together a range of experts to tackle key issues including the environmental, economic and social aspects of greenhouse gas removal, as well as ethical, legal and governance factors.

Alongside their roles on the leadership team, the Edinburgh experts will also conduct vital research.

Stuart Haszeldine, who is Professor of Carbon Capture and Storage, will investigate policy and business issues, while Navraj Singh Ghaleigh, Senior Lecturer in Climate Law, will conduct work on governance, ethics and legal matters.

A crucial part of reaching net zero is to use greenhouse gas removal to balance emissions with storage. We will examine the practical solutions and business models proposed from projects as diverse as tree planting, to making hydrogen, to recapturing carbon dioxide from the air. Helping these projects to happen faster, bigger and cheaper is our primary aim.

Professor Stuart HaszeldineSchool of GeoSciences

At the most basic level, it is necessary to ensure that these new technologies and techniques are consistent with existing air, water, soil and habitat regulatory regimes. Social robustness demands that greenhouse gas removal is developed and delivered in ways that fulfil the rights of individuals and communities. The new greenhouse gas removal sector needs to strike a new path for the UK, not just in terms of our collective emissions profile but also to create more just and sustainable futures.

Navraj Singh GhaleighEdinburgh Law School

The project, which involves a dozen UK universities, is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Related links

School of GeoSciences

Edinburgh Law School

UKRI announcement

Image credit: Getty Images/georgeclerk