RTE To Biden: Remineralization, Other NETs Key To Reaching New GHG Reduction Targets
Negative emissions technologies (NETs), including soil remineralization, can play an important role in helping the U.S. achieve its plan of reducing net-GHG emissions by 50-52 per cent from 2005 levels before the end of the decade, suggests a letter signed by Remineralize the Earth (RTE), Methane Action and Climate Protection and Restoration Initiative executives.
“We encourage global leaders to focus not only on emissions reductions, but also on adopting a robust program to assess, develop and deploy evidence-based NETs across the economy,” says Joanna Campe, executive director of RTE. “Remineralization is an intuitive, nature-based solution to build better soils that in turn grow healthier, stronger plants that can capture and store more atmospheric CO2. It is a crucial part of the path forward on reversing climate change.”
On April 22, during the Leaders’ Summit on Climate, U.S. President Joe Biden announced that his administration will better position the nation’s workers and industries to tackle the climate crisis. This is part of a federal focus on “building back better” by creating millions of good-paying, union jobs, while ensuring economic competitiveness, advancing environmental justice, and improved community health and security across America.
According to POTUS, the U.S. can reduce emissions from forests and agriculture and enhance carbon sinks through a range of programs and measures, such as nature-based solutions for ecosystems (i.e. forests and agricultural soils). Ocean-based solutions can also contribute towards reducing U.S. emissions.
Combining enhanced rock weathering and remineralization with a regenerative agriculture model would enhance carbon sequestration in soils and improve agricultural yields, simply by replacing conventional chemical fertilizer with rock dust and biochar as well as other regenerative farming practices, suggests the letter to Biden, co-signed by RTE, which was delivered to the president in advance of his climate summit.
This NET has the downstream benefit of buffering the oceans, mitigating significant harm of excess atmospheric CO2, such as ocean acidification and its degradation of marine life.
“Remineralization is a game-changing, low-tech technology that will help the U.S. and entire world achieve net-zero,” says Campe. “By using finely-ground rock dust and sea-based minerals to restore our soils and forests, we can produce more nutritious food, removing excess atmospheric CO2 in the process. It is a win-win solution.”
A proposed Executive Order
Along with Campe, Daphne Wysham, chief executive officer of Methane Action, and Dan Galpern, CPR Initiative general counsel and executive director, also signed the April 15 letter. John Fitzgerald, CPR Initiative vice-president, and legal counsel to Methane Action, spearheaded the effort.
“We are writing to ask you to consider an executive order that builds on your [Jan. 27, 2021 executive order],” Fitzgerald told the U.S. president in his recent document, titled The Case for An Executive Order And Global Action To Assess, Develop and Deploy Greenhouse Gas Removal Technologies.
“Informed by the advice of our legal and scientific colleagues, including some who have served in the federal government, this proposed new order would draw on presidential powers to expedite a research agenda for developing and deploying ways to remove excess [GHGs] from the atmosphere, including legacy [CO2] and short-lived climate pollutants, particularly methane.”
He adds: “The [proposed] order would stipulate that any and all removal methods undergo an appropriate level of environmental assessment. In this regard programmatic environmental impact statements may be the most effective vehicles for informing the agencies and the public around the world and receiving comments from them in order to synchronize our work with that of the international bodies charged with protecting earth’s living natural resources.
“Such an assessment, programmatic impact statement or other evaluation should also include or address the question of how some of the techniques to combat global warming might interfere, with rather than assist, nature’s processes for removing GHGs or run the risk of being harder to control or reverse.”
Accompanying the collaborative letter to Biden is a statement signed by 30 prominent scientists worldwide calling for the lowering of atmospheric methane concentrations. Also included was the brief written by Fitzgerald, which seeks to guide and unify policy action in the U.S. and around the world on the assessment, development, and deployment of NETs.
While there are opportunities for innovation in direct air capture and carbon mineralization technologies, proponents of the recommended order suggest there are NETs available now that require little to no environmental or human-health risk. These NETs include coastal blue carbon, afforestation and reforestation, improved forest management, and uptake and storage by agricultural soils. Remineralization is one of those solutions.
Carter Haydu is a journalist and professional writer with more than 13 years of experience. Since 2012, he has written primarily on the Alberta energy sector for a Calgary-based trade publication. Much of his work has dealt with environmental issues facing the upstream oil and gas industry. In 2018, Carter attained a technical writing certificate from a reputable Canadian university. He hopes his skillset can support RTE’s sustainable initiatives.