The potential for land-based biological CO2 removal to lower future atmospheric CO2 concentration

Timothy M. Lenton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


A combined approach of deliberate CO2 removal (CDR) from the atmosphere alongside reducing CO2 emissions is the best way to minimize the future rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration, and the only timely way to bring the atmospheric CO2 concentration back down if it overshoots safe levels. Here, land-based biological CDR and storage methods are reviewed, including afforestation, biomass burial, biochar production and bioenergy with CO2 capture and storage. The current and future CDR flux they could generate and their total storage capacity for CO2 are quantitatively assessed. The results suggest that there is already the potential to counterbalance land use change CO2 emissions. By mid-century, the CDR flux together with natural sinks could match current total CO2 emissions, thus stabilizing atmospheric CO 2 concentration. By the end of the century, CDR could exceed CO 2 emissions, thus lowering atmospheric CO2 concentration and global temperature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-160
Number of pages16
JournalCarbon Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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