‘Climate Healing Stones’: Common Minerals Offer Substantial Climate Change Mitigation Potential

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Pratt, Chris
Mahdi, Zainab
El Hanandeh, Ali
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This review proposes that mineral-based greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation could be developed into a substantial climate change abatement tool. This proposal was evaluated via three objectives: (1) synthesise literature studies documenting the effectiveness of geological minerals at mitigating GHG emissions; (2) quantify, via meta-analysis, GHG magnitudes that could be abated by minerals factoring-in the carbon footprint of the approach; and (3) estimate the global availability of relevant minerals. Several minerals have been effectively harnessed across multiple sectors—including agriculture, waste management and coal mining—to mitigate carbon dioxide/CO2 (e.g., olivine), methane/CH4 (e.g., allophane, gypsum) and nitrous oxide/N2O (e.g., vermiculite) emissions. High surface area minerals offer substantial promise to protect soil carbon, albeit their potential impact here is difficult to quantify. Although mineral-based N2O reduction strategies can achieve gross emission reduction, their application generates a net carbon emission due to prohibitively large mineral quantities needed. By contrast, mineral-based technologies could abate ~9% and 11% of global CO2 and CH4 anthropogenic emissions, respectively. These estimates conservatively only consider options which offer additional benefits to climate change mitigation (e.g., nutrient supply to agricultural landscapes, and safety controls in landfill operations). This multi-benefit aspect is important due to the reluctance to invest in stand-alone GHG mitigation technologies. Minerals that exhibit high GHG mitigation potential are globally abundant. However, their application towards a dedicated global GHG mitigation initiative would entail significant escalation of their current production rates. A detailed cost-benefit analysis and environmental and social footprint assessment is needed to ascertain the strategy’s scale-up potential.

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Environmental Management
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Carbon dioxide
Climate change
Greenhouse gases
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Pratt, C; Mahdi, Z; El Hanandeh, A, ‘Climate Healing Stones’: Common Minerals Offer Substantial Climate Change Mitigation Potential, Environmental Management, 2024