EMBO Reports (2019) e47580 Global climate change is reality: It is affecting weather patterns and sea levels, and impacting on fauna, flora, and humanity. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre‐industrial levels, anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions must be cut by approximately 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero around 2050. Just saving energy will not be sufficient given the energy‐hungry technologies that keep human civilization running. “The decarbonization of society is a challenging task,” commented Arren Bar‐Even of the Max Planck Institute of Plant Physiology in Potsdam, Germany. “All of the world around us is composed of carbon commodities: plastic, the clothes we wear, everything.” To get to zero emission, humanity must go one step further than developing technologies that do with less energy and begin to capture carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere. > … the most important biological mechanism for fixing carbon dioxide is very inefficient, which is very much down to one enzyme… There are various technologies to capture carbon dioxide and store it in underground geological formations or reduce it to one‐carbon compounds, such as methane. Yet, storing is only a temporary solution and methane is of limited use. Scientists are therefore trying to learn from biology. In fact, nature has invented carbon fixation with photosynthesis more than a billion years ago and has since expanded and refined it. Moreover, photosynthesis can convert carbon dioxide into complex molecules with long carbon backbones. “Organisms have an unbelievable biosynthetic potential that is unmatched by chemical processes. Biology is very good at selectively building complex carbon molecules, and they can do so from atmospheric carbon dioxide” said Tobias Erb of the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg, Germany. Researchers now aim to harness biology's synthetic ability …

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