On Earth Day 2021, 40 leaders from around the world came together for the virtual Climate Summit and made pledges to reduce emissions, work toward climate neutrality, and other similarly lofty goals. Missing from the conversation was a crucial fact: If we want to achieve a livable planet for future generations, it’s not enough to just cut current emissions. We need to draw down the massive amounts of greenhouse gases that are already in the atmosphere and altering our climate.

After decades of data analysis and number crunching around how to keep our planet livable, Sanjeev Khagram, dean of the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona, says that he’s come to an inescapable conclusion: “There’s no mathematical way for us to achieve our climate mitigation goals without CO2 removal,” he says. That’s why Khagram is spearheading the Global Carbon Removal Partnership, an international consortium of sustainability advocates working to create financial and policy incentives to achieve climate restoration.

Cutting emissions, while necessary, won’t be enough to make our climate habitable for humanity. Erica Dodds, the chief operating officer for the Foundation for Climate Restoration, points out that 95 percent of the CO2 that is altering our planet is already present in our atmosphere. Only 5 percent comes from current sources of pollution. “We need to focus on reducing current emissions, of course, but we don’t want to lose sight of the CO2 that’s already in the atmosphere that we need to deal with,” she says.

As Kahgram puts it, “We as a human species flourished when CO2 was somewhere between 250 to 350 parts per million. Now we’re at over 400 parts per million. To survive and thrive, we need to restore our climate.”

Read the full article about carbon capture at Grist.