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With New Urgency, Climate Scientists Recommend Carbon Removal

In the landmark report from the UN-backed IPCC, the authors say reducing emissions is not enough— we must also withdraw billions of tons of CO₂ from the atmosphere.

The fan and air intake of a direct air capture system in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada.

The fan and air intake of a direct air capture system in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada.

Photographer: James MacDonald/Bloomberg

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The latest scientific assessment from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change generated plenty of grim headlines on Monday, but at least one of its most important findings went largely unremarked upon. Cutting emissions is paramount, they say—but in order to keep warming below catastrophic levels, we now must also find a way to take billions of tons of the carbon dioxide we’ve poured into the atmosphere back out. That process is known as carbon dioxide removal, or negative emissions.