This is it – the pinnacle of technological development, the result of countless research hours; yes, it’s a tree.

Image via Bread for the Bride.

A report done by Oxford researchers analyzed the best ways of removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it someplace where it doesn’t interfere with the climate. As it turns out, one hectare of forest can sequester around 3.7 tons of CO2 per year at a cost of less than 100 dollars per ton. There are other benefits as well, such as increased soil quality and developing recreational areas, and with trees, the dirt iftself will also store more carbon.

“With better agricultural land management, we can increase the amount of organic carbon in soil. We can also burn biomass into a carbon-dense biochar and store it in soil,” writes the Grist.

Other analyzed options were grabbing CO2 emissions from biomass-burning plants, sucking CO2 directly out of the air, and putting lime in seawater to make it absorb more CO2. Pound per pound, all these options do way better than trees of course, but actually implementing them has very high costs and realistically. It will still take several years before we can actually implement these technologies. At the moment, it seems like trees are the best we’ve got.

But no matter how much we try to store carbon, the basic underlying fact remains that we are simply emitting too much CO2 into the atmosphere – any storage or capture technologies will have to be completed by a reduction in emissions, as the report stresses:

“It is clear that attaining negative emissions is in no sense an easier option than reducing current emissions. To remove CO2 T on a comparable scale to the rate it is being emitted inevitably requires effort and infrastructure on a comparable scale to global energy or agricultural systems. Combined with the potentially high costs and energy requirements of several technologies, and the global effort needed to approach the technical potentials discussed previously, it is clear that very large-scale negative emissions deployment, if it were possible, is not in any sense preferable to timely decarbonisation of the energy and agricultural systems.”