The constant increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has had widely acknowledged effects on the climate. Much has been said about the problem, less about potential solutions. Even if we could stop CO2 emissions immediately, the planet’s temperature will continue to rise for a long time. In any case, we will continue to produce carbon dioxide for decades before managing to achieve a complete transition to renewable energy, and indeed will continue to emit CO2 even afterwards. Yet, perhaps, there is a way out. Besides reducing emissions, we could also capture CO2, reuse it as a raw material and even exploit it to create clean and sustainable fuel, by copying nature and making the most of the energy provided by the sun. This is not science fiction: it can be done today.
Gianfranco Pacchioni teaches at the Bicocca University in Milan and is a recipient of the Humboldt Award and the Pascal Medal of the European Academy of Sciences.