The CO2 Removal Hub (CO2RE) is a UKRI-funded gateway to research expertise on Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR). The programme focuses on solutions-led research into economically, socially, and environmentally scalable GGR options.

We carry out research, coordinate demonstration projects, connect to other national and international programmes, and commission grants through a flexible fund. To date, this is the largest GGR programme funded by the UK government and will enable the country to lead in the push towards global net-zero emissions.

In order to achieve a net zero emission economy by 2050 and potentially net-negative emissions thereafter, we need an effective means of removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere in addition to a dramatic reduction in emissions. This requires the creation and scaling up of a global GGR industry. In the UK alone, GGR needs to be capable of removing around 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2050. To achieve the increase in scale in such a short time frame:

  • Technologies must be cheaper to implement
  • Business models need to be developed
  • Publicly acceptable and socially robust economic policies, and legal and regulatory frameworks must be in place.

Our multi-disciplinary research explores the new science, social permissions, policies and business ideas needed to encourage growth of the GGR industry. We emphasise the need for dialogue with stakeholders from society, and ensure that policy and regulatory frameworks are put in place with incentives to support rapid growth.

In addition to our cross-cutting research, our rigorous approach will ensure that GGR techniques are developed rapidly, effectively, and responsibly alongside action to reduce emissions. Our overarching objectives are:

  • Supportive policies: We will provide robust, implementable and equitable options for policy and governance, support for bankable business models for sustainable GGR deployment.
  • Scalable technologies: We are developing an evaluation framework for the Demonstrators and other GGR techniques which covers lifecycle assessment, economic costs, environmental impact, governance, and social perceptions. Our aim is to accelerate development of promising, globally scalable GGR, and sift out ineffective options.
  • Enhanced capacity: We are building a GGR research and innovation community by linking projects within the Programme as well as with other national and international initiatives. We will explore additional funding to deliver legacy activities, as well as develop transparent and robust decision-support processes to help stakeholders and champions shape and use GGR effectively.

Demonstrator projects

Five interdisciplinary research projects will feed into longer-term government decision-making on the most effective technologies to reduce CO2 emissions.

Afforestation

The right tree in the right place is vital for effective GGR. This project gathers evidence and addresses knowledge gaps, as well as allowing decision-makers to explore the consequences of different tree planting options and all the diverse aspects of forestry.

Project lead: Professor Ian Bateman, University of Exeter

Research team: Universities of Exeter and Aberdeen, the National Trust, Forest Research and over 20 project partners including policymakers, all the Forestry authorities, many large landowners from the NGO sector, and networks to represent farmers and the timber and building sectors.

Peatland restoration

Peatlands store more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem, carbon that is rapidly being lost to the atmosphere through human disturbance. This project works with natural processes to recreate, and where possible enhance, the environmental conditions that lead to peat formation, as well as developing innovative approaches to augment rates of carbon dioxide uptake and store it securely for millennia. Our work features three demonstrators in both lowland and upland peat settings:

  • South Yorkshire, near Doncaster
  • Land owned by the National Trust in the South Pennines
  • Aberystwyth University Upland Research Centre in Pwllpeiran, Wales.

Project lead: Professor Christopher Evans, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

Research Team: Newcastle, Aston, Durham, East London, Bangor, Aberystwyth and Bangor universities, and project partners from government, NGOs and business.

Enhanced rock weathering

This project explores how to amend soils using crushed calcium and magnesium rich silicate rocks from waste quarry fines to accelerate natural CO2 sequestration processes. The project is the first whole-system assessment of the science, societal and scalability opportunities and challenges of enhanced rock weathering deployment in UK agriculture. The field sites are:

  • The Plynlimon Experimental Catchments (mid-Wales)
  • Rothamsted Research's North Wyke grassland experimental platform in Devon
  • Rothamsted Research's arable research facility in Harpenden, Hertfordshire

Project lead: Professor David Beerling, University of Sheffield

Research team: Universities of Sheffield, Aberdeen, Leeds, Oxford, Heriot-Watt, Cardiff and Southampton, Rothamsted Research, the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and project partners from the mineral and agricultural sectors.

Biochar

Biochar is a stable, long-lived, charcoal-like product of burning biomass in the absence of oxygen (pyrolysis). This interdisciplinary project explores the uncertainties around the extent and scope of biochar deployment, including its stability in relation to carbon sequestration, as well as quantifying the effects on ecosystem services, economic viability, and social acceptability. Field trials will take place at:

  • Arable and grassland sites in the Midlands and Wales
  • An open cast coal mine site in Cumbria
  • Denuded railway embankments
  • Forestry sites in England and Wales

Project lead: Professor Colin Snape, University of Nottingham

Research Team: Nottingham, Leeds and Bangor universities, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Forest Research, the Scottish Universities Environment Research Centre, and project partners including from the agricultural sector, biochar producers and the international biochar community.

Bioenergy crops

This project addresses the technical and social barriers to the rapid scale-up of perennial bioenergy crops, Miscanthus and short rotation coppice willow, to support implementation of Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) in the UK. Alongside existing trials, new field trials will take place at:

  • Bishop Burton College, Lincolnshire
  • Myerscough College, Lancashire

Project lead: Professor Iain Donnison, Aberystwyth University

Research Team: Institute for Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) in collaboration with Aberdeen and Gloucestershire University, Rothamsted Research, the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and project partners representing key energy crop growers in the UK.

Who we are

CO2RE Hub coordinates the GGR programme and is funded through the UKRI SPF Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) Demonstrators Programme. The Hub comprises a highly motivated, multidisciplinary team of 19 leading academic experts on greenhouse gas removal in the UK, backed by seven institutions and located here at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. Our multidisciplinary team spans ages, genders and expertise, working closely with policymakers, the public and industry.

Partners

  • University of Oxford
  • Imperial College London
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Manchester
  • University College London

Contact us

Email: GGR@smithschool.ox.ac.uk