This page provides an accessible version of the GGR-D Programme’s leaflet text.
Getting GGR right in the UK
What is Greenhouse Gas Removal?
Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide, are gases that trap the Sun’s heat and cause the planet’s temperature to rise. Too much greenhouse gas in the atmosphere causes global warming – we urgently need to find ways to produce less. We also need to look for ways to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are already out there, and to lock them away for a long time. This process is called Greenhouse Gas Removal, GGR, or in the case of CO2 – carbon dioxide removal, CDR.
The UKRI Greenhouse Gas Removal Demonstrators (GGR-D) Programme is an ambitious research initiative, studying how to deliver the most effective, large-scale GGR in the UK. This research will inform government choices as we work towards achieving net zero in the UK. It will also give us expert insights into GGR that we can share with other countries. GGR-D consists of 5 demonstrator projects which look at the benefits and possible challenges of different methods of GGR.
The programme is co-ordinated by the Greenhouse Gas Removal Hub, known as CO2RE. CO2RE will work closely with the projects and others to develop new knowledge on effective, responsible and timely GGR methods, taking into account the environmental, economic, social, cultural, ethical, legal and governance implications of each of them.
Can biochar be used to store carbon in soil?
Our Biochar project is studying the implications of widespread use of this approach. How stable is biochar? How does it affect soil and plant life? Is there a business for biochar? Does it have public support? Our Biochar project is led by the University of Nottingham, with field trials across multiple sites in England and Wales.
Biochar is a long-lived, carbon-rich, charcoal-like product that comes from burning biomass in a very low-oxygen environment. Biochar can be spread on farmland, where it stores carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the soil as carbon for a very long time.
Could quarry waste work?
Silicate rocks, such as basalt, have been absorbing greenhouse gases for millions of years as part of a chemical process. The greater a rock’s surface area, the more greenhouse gas it can absorb.
So, if we took the rock waste from quarries which is too finely crushed to be useful in construction, and added it to soil, it could not only store greenhouse gas from the atmosphere, but it might improve soil health and crop yields too. This process is called Enhanced Rock Weathering, and our project is looking into whether this could be used at scale, in a scientifically rigorous way for GGR in the UK. The project is led by the University of Sheffield, across experimental field sites in England and Wales.
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How can we help peatlands store away carbon?
Peatlands are wetlands, and make up about 10% of the land in the UK. The waterlogged conditions in a healthy peatland mean that part of the carbon captured by plant photosynthesis each year is not returned to the atmosphere by decomposition, and instead accumulates as peat.
However, human activities over many years means that many areas of peatlands are drying out. As it dries, the old plant material can start to decompose and this releases some of the stored carbon back into the atmosphere. Our peatland restoration project, GGR-Peat, will study a range of natural and technological processes to see which ones most effectively restore the health of degraded peatland, and which ones can even accelerate carbon capture in peat. The project is led by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology with field tests in England and Wales.
How can creating woodlands help us meet net zero, and more?
Because trees naturally absorb CO2 they offer a cost-effective way to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Planting more trees can also provide habitats for wild species and so protect biodiversity. What’s more, woodlands can improve water quality, prevent floods and create beautiful spaces to explore, improving our physical and mental health.
Planting trees at a large enough scale to achieve net zero while realising all the benefits that woodlands can deliver will require careful planning. Without planning, we could cause more harm than good, releasing CO2 instead of storing it.
Our NetZeroPlus project, led by the University of Exeter with field trials across multiple sites in England and Scotland, gathers evidence to explore the GGR consequences of different tree-planting options to help identify how to make sure we plant “the right tree in the right place”.
How much greenhouse gas can biomass crops remove?
If we grow specific crops such as willow and miscanthus, we can then burn these crops to produce low carbon electricity, at which point the CO2 is released into the atmosphere again.
If the CO2 is captured at the power station and stored underground, the process is carbon negative, and is known as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).
Our perennial biomass crops project, or PBC4GGR, is investigating the potential for plants like willow and miscanthus to support BECCS in the UK and will explore ways to maximise the GGR potential of these perennial crops while minimising their CO2 emissions.
Led by Aberystwyth University, it will investigate the conditions required for farmer uptake, societal acceptance, costs, benefits and trade-offs, with field trials in East Yorkshire and Lancashire.
What is Greenhouse Gas Removal?
Our FAQ page answers questions around Greenhouse Gas Removal, including why we need it, what the different types of GGR are and how they can be pursued.
Discover the five Demonstrator projects that are part of the GGR-D Programme: biochar, enhanced rock weathering, peatland, perennial biomass crops and woodland creation and management.
Browse the latest publications from members of the CO2RE team, including articles in leading journals, policy briefings and reports on a range of aspects relating to GGR.