Climate Restoration Could Be The Answer We're Looking For

Climate change has always been a pressing issue since the 1980s, yet it is only now that it is being taken more seriously by governments and high-ranking politicians around the world. But is it enough?

The effects of climate change are becoming more and more visible today, and countries with weak governments and institutions may find it even more challenging and difficult to adapt to climate change. Countries such as Australia are now experiencing extreme drought and intense heat caused by climate change in the region. For example, in 2019, Australia had both the driest and hottest year on record. Considering the impacts of climate change globally, these changes are now the beginning of a new norm.

This makes the task of combating and mitigating climate change even more urgent, but global conferences such as COP26 and global agreements such as the Paris agreement can only take you so far. To seek change we must first want it and push for it, and it comes in the form of climate restoration.

Climate restoration is the process of reducing CO2 levels trapped within the Earth’s atmosphere to healthy and safe levels which have last been seen over a century ago. This solution offers an economically feasible way of reducing CO2 levels that we know are liveable. Right now, we are solely focusing on becoming net-zero. Becoming net-zero refers to achieving this balance, the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere.

The problem is, what happens to the greenhouse gases that are already in the atmosphere? The framework of net-zero pushes away from climate restoration because the excess CO2 in the atmosphere will need to also be removed for all of us to have a safer future for the generations after us.

But how can we get rid of the excess CO2?

Climate restoration is all about using different methods to support the basic aim of restoring the climate to its healthy CO2 levels through carbon removal. This can come in many forms, such as synthetic limestone, direct air capture and tree planting. Firstly, let’s explore these carbon removal methods and understand how these can be done and at what cost.

Most carbon reduction schemes are temporary, meaning the carbon will eventually re-enter the atmosphere at some point, but this is what we must avoid. Synthetic limestone replaces naturally mined limestone aggregate by storing the CO2 permanently. It does this by converting the captured carbon to carbonate for mineralisation and voila, synthetic limestone! This is a great way to restore the climate as there is a huge demand worldwide for concrete and most concrete is made of limestone. By using synthetic limestone, 44% of CO2 is obtained within the rock so we can continue using limestone but also help the environment in return.

The second carbon removal method is direct air capture. This involves using technology to extract CO2 directly from the atmosphere and then store it in deep geological formations or use it in everyday activities such as food processing. This process can be applied in a wide variety of locations, can achieve net-zero or negative emissions and best of all, it removes or recycles carbon.

Last but not least we also have tree-planting. Trees are vital to human health and are the very reason why we are still alive each day. As trees grow and expand, they can store carbon dioxide emissions at rates of 48 pounds per year according to the Ten Million Trees Partnership.

With your help, we can raise awareness on climate restoration and encourage governments, organisations, and companies to include it in their campaigns, policies and much more.

YOU can also start now by doing these five actions that can be done anywhere and everywhere:

1. Write a letter to your MP

Writing to your MP is free and rewarding. It lets them know about a particular problem (in this case the topic of climate change) and how it is affecting people in your area or even around the world! This is a great way to showcase your concern and gain the support of your MP for the climate restoration cause. You can find more information here.

2. Organise a local protest in your community

Organising a protest is a great and effective way of you exercising your freedom of speech and can lead you down that path of advocacy. Protesting is storytelling, bringing people together and working on an issue and presenting a solution to force and build a response.

3. Create a local group in your community for the sole purpose of climate restoration

Creating a local group in your community may seem like a challenge but it is one of the best ways to educate and tell others about the climate restoration cause! To start, decide the group you want to work with and build social media platforms to advertise your event and even talk to local community organisations and see if they can support you!

4. Join a Model UN to voice your concerns such as a Green Summit Model UN

Joining a Model UN is a great way to not only voice your concerns to other people, but it allows you to develop leadership skills, public speaking and even research. It is a great platform to connect with like-minded individuals and have hands-on experience in the world of politics. The Green Summit for the Humanitarian Affairs Asia organisation is hosting a virtual model UN on Saturday 19th - Sunday 20th March, you can apply here for more details:

5. Finally, join the Youth Leaders for Climate Restoration (YL4CR) programme to learn more about climate restoration and its impacts. The voices of young people are very crucial in initiating change, this programme adopts the train-the-trainer approach which educates young activists and students whilst allowing them along the programme to train and mentor others. The best thing about this programme is that there is no cost to participate, and applications are accepted on a rolling basis, so new cohorts begin every six weeks. You can find more information here.

Aiyesha Swarnn

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