"Terrestrial Ecosystem Engineering for Optimized Carbon Dioxide Removal Systems and Pathways"
To avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, global temperature rise must be held below 2 degrees Celsius. While limiting harmful greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonizing the global economy are vital steps toward achieving this goal, current projections indicate a need for an additional 20 GT/year of negative emissions capacity by 2100. Realizing this magnitude of negative emissions capacity will be an enormous challenge, but it will also be a notable opportunity to lay the groundwork for an entirely new sector of economic activity and resource allocation especially within the agricultural and land management sectors. Although the immense scale of this new carbon dioxide removal (CDR) industry will require a diverse suite of solutions, engineered terrestrial ecosystems as well as optimized downstream biomass use, stabilization, and storage offer relatively near-term, large-scale, and energy-efficient sinks for atmospheric carbon. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) is working to enable a carbon farming industry and seeking to refocus the bioeconomy towards carbon removal and management by promoting technologies that could leverage terrestrial ecosystems to offer greater negative emissions pathways. This presentation will outline the Agency’s established bioeconomy programs and carbon management efforts and will characterize its vision for the future of both carbon farming and the bioeconomy, and it will outline how advanced plant engineering and synthetic biology may contribute to potential new funding opportunities in this space.