Most scenarios for ambitious decarbonization rely on photosynthesis-based technologies for a substantial fraction net GHG emissions reductions. These technologies potentially contribute emissions reductions through providing low-emissions energy, coupling with CCS to produce energy with negative emissions, increasing the carbon content of the biosphere, or decreasing emissions from land-use change. While all these options will be attractive at some scale, setting realistic targets is challenging, largely because the constraints and trade-offs for these technologies are so different than for other components of a decarbonization strategy. In general, limits imposed by land and water requirements, challenges with governance and implementation, and sensitivity to climate change argue for the expectation that these technologies will provide a meaningful, but not dominant, fraction of the decarbonization solutions portfolio throughout the 21st century.
Chris Field is the Perry L. McCarty Director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies at Stanford University. Prior to his 2016 appointment at the Stanford Woods Institute, Field was a staff member at the Carnegie Institution for Science (1984-2002) and founding director of the Carnegie’s Department of Global Ecology (2002-2016). Field's research focuses on climate change, especially solutions that improve lives now, decrease the amount of future warming, and support vibrant economies.
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