Carbon Sequestration: What, Why & How

forest sequestering carbon

As human beings living on this planet, we have an undeniable impact on it. Of course there are ways that we can, and should reduce our environmental footprint, but the fact is that as we live, breathe and consume on this planet, we create offsets in the natural environment which impact both human and non-human life.

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are one of these aforementioned offsets. So, what are GHGs anyways, and how do they work?

GHGs can naturally exist within the atmosphere and include substances such as water vapour, methane, and nitrous acid. Others are synthetic, man-made chemicals including chlorofluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride to name two examples.

When put in to the atmosphere, these gases create a thick, blanket-like layer which causes light and heat to get stuck, thus causing the effects of global warming.

What are some causes of GHGs?

Many of the things we use in our day-to-day life create some sort of offset in GHGs. The main sources are:

  • Transportation (14%) - when we start our cars, take a plane somewhere, or hop on a bus
  • Agriculture and land (20%) - and the food we consume, by what energy it took to mass-produce, make and grow the product, and to ship it to us
  • Electricity and heat generated by fossil fuels (25%)
  • Manufacturing and industry (18%) - i.e. our clothing and other essential products, food waste, and many other ways (University of California, 2017)

All these things are fundamental to living in Canada; we rely on our needs being met to ensure the high quality of life we are lucky and proud to enjoy in Canada. That being said, all these things inevitably create GHG emissions which contributes to the warming of the planet.

Now, what can we as Canadians do to:

  • Balance our consumption?
  • Positively influence our ecological footprint?
  • Decrease the amount of pollutants and waste put in the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and geosphere?

How does Carbon Sequestration work?

Alberta Carbon Trunk Line Carbon Sequestion Initiative

Alberta Carbon Trunk Line - Carbon Sequestration

This is where Carbon Sequestration comes into the fold. Carbon sequestration, or carbon capture, is the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by capturing and securely storing it in the hopes of slowing down or reversing global warming, therefore creating a positive impact on the global environment.

All successful pathways given by the IPCC include carbon capture and sequestration within its plans – that is to say, there is no option to combat climate change that does not involve these technologies and processes (IPCC, 2018).

There are many different ways in which carbon capture and sequestration are used, such as ocean, geologic and terrestrial sequestration, carbon farming, afforestation and deforestation, plus many others!

If you’re interested in learning more about the various up-and-coming methods and practices of carbon sequestration, stay tuned for the newest series in Canada Action’s eco-blogs. Over the next couple months, carbon sequestration and the green technologies associated with it, including oil and gas, agriculture and forestry, will be discussed further!

This is a great way for Canada to become a leader in sustainable development and ecological design. Get informed and get involved in the movement!

About the AuthorTatiana Prat - Students for Canada

Tatiana Pratt is an environmental studies student completing her final year at Carleton University. She works with Canada Action and Students for Canada as an eco-blogger, and is also chair of the new climate committee for SFC. Tatiana desires to help create a balance in the conversations surrounding climate change and natural resources, and values equal distribution of care for each crucial pillar - people, planet and prosperity. Tatiana hopes her work with Canada Action and Students for Canada helps bridge the divide between Canadian students and citizens, to meet in the middle and create positive solutions for Canada's future.


GHGs: (Hoegh-Guldberg et al, 2007) Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification

Where do greenhouse gas emissions come from? (University of California, 2017)

IPCC, 2018: Summary for Policymakers. In: Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, H.-O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J.B.R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M.I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, T. Maycock, M. Tignor, and T. Waterfield (eds.)]. World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 32 pp.

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