In order to begin to act on the goals of the Paris climate accord, and to start taking real action on our climate challenge, we need to find ways to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Universities are leading the way when it comes to pulling CO2 out of the air. For instance, Arizona State University researchers have recently designed a box that acts as a sponge to pull carbon dioxide out of the air; the CO2 must then be sequestered and kept out of our atmosphere. As the lead engineer on the project, Dr. Klaus Lackner, says, “We already delayed, we waited. And now is the time to clean up.”
With higher ed innovating on climate solutions, we are on the right path to a healthier, more flourishing future. Communicating such accomplishments and research advances, encouraging students to pursue these career paths, and providing opportunities for sustainability through simple, every day actions are ways that higher ed can help overcome our climate challenge. For more resources on how to innovate and inspire your campus to take climate action, please visit join us on the Path to Positive.
Tempe, AZ — From the rooftop of Klaus Lackner’s seven-story building on the Arizona State University campus, photovoltaic panels seem to glisten in every direction. The school claims to have more solar installed than any other university in America – part of a plan to offset the carbon emissions of this institution of more than 80,000 students.
But the odd little box Lackner has come up here to check could take things a big step further. If it works on a bigger scale, this box could make the university a negative emitter — actually reducing the amount of carbon in the air by pulling some of it out again.
Lackner’s box is part of a new wave of technology aimed at turbocharging efforts to head off climate change. Such devices had been a pipe-dream until recently, but more and more, they are being seen as indispensable. That’s because the goals set at last year’s Paris accord on climate change, of keeping the planet’s warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, may not be achievable unless such technology comes to fruition.
Solar power and electric cars won’t be enough, say scientists. Humans may have to somehow clean carbon out of the air, the way that trees do naturally but at a gigantic scale.
“If you want to balance the books at this point, I don’t think you have a choice but to pull CO2 back that has already made it out,” Lackner said. “Or is about to make it out, because we are not overnight shutting down all the coal plants.”