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Cutting carbon pollution is essential for slowing global warming.

But Julio Friedmann of the Center for Global Energy Policy at Columbia University says the world cannot realistically stop emitting enough carbon pollution in time to prevent dangerous levels of warming.

“Many of the most persistent and difficult sources of emissions have no good options today,” he says.

So he says it’s critical to also remove some of the CO2 that’s already in the air and oceans. Nature can help. For example, we can plant trees.

“They do the job,” Friedmann says.

But he says it’s not feasible to plant enough trees to rely on them as the only solution. So Friedmann says new technologies will also be essential.

For example, scientists are working on ways to suck CO2 from the air and permanently store it underground or use it as a raw material for industrial products.

These technologies are not a substitute for reducing emissions, and they require much more research and development before they can be deployed broadly.

But Friedmann says investing in carbon removal is a critical part of maintaining a safe climate.

“It is complementary,” he says. “It is additive to everything else we have to do with mitigation.”

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Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.