There Is an Important Climate Solution Democrats Never Talk About. But Why?

Humanity needs to start pulling carbon out of the air.

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty

This story was originally published by Grist and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Academies of Sciences, and scores of researchers around the world agree on this fact: To prevent dangerous levels of climate change, it’s likely that humanity will need to start pulling carbon out of the air. The leading Democrats running for the White House, however, don’t seem so sure.

Many of the contenders support using natural carbon sinks, like soils and forests, to suck more carbon out of the atmosphere, according to climate plans the Democratic candidates have released over the last few months. But only three of the top ten candidates—Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Andrew Yang—are explicitly calling to invest in technology that does the exact same thing, despite the fact that many experts believe limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) depends on it. And yet none of the candidates calling for so-called negative emissions technology took the opportunity to talk about it during CNN’s 7-hour climate crisis forum last week.

“My own view is that we have to take carbon out of the air and the water and put it back underground,” said Leah Stokes, a climate and energy policy expert at the University of California Santa Barbara. “We cannot just put it in the soil and the forests. And that is not something that very many candidates understand or are talking about.”

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