Make No Mistake; Let’s Talk the Right Way to do Carbon Removal

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It is a relief to know that Jennifer Wilcox, formerly a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute leading their carbon removal program has been brought into President Biden’s Department of Energy. With her hire, the DOE announced $15 Million in Funding Opportunities for Direct Air Capture Technologies. This means that the Biden administration understands that carbon removal is critical if we are to have any hope of saving the planet from runaway climate change.

As a reminder, we need to remove as much as 98 GT a year, by some estimates, to restore our planet to pre-industrial levels of carbon by 2050. A growing level of interest is evident, particularly with the announcement of Elon Musk’s $100 Million Carbon Capture Contest. Increasingly more people understand that just ending emissions is only part of the solution. As with anything, how something is done is just as important at what is done.

While this technology could be useful in helping certain industries such as airlines mitigate their impact, make no mistake, the oil and gas industry loves carbon capture. They would use this technology to further the interests of fracking (Enhanced Oil Recovery), and creating renewable fossil fuel applications which have emissions. The oil and gas industry’s experiments with injection methods of sequestration may leak or cause seismic activity.

As investors, we need to know what is and what is not going to be a true solution. We have very little time and with so much carbon to be removed, it is difficult to defend these types of applications. Rather, we need to be focusing on the beneficial re-use of captured carbon. Beneficial applications might include construction materials, cement and for feeding algae that can then be used to regenerate badly de-natured cropland across the globe. With so much carbon to be removed, it would be far safer and more optimal to inject the captured carbon into large deposits of basalt on every continent turning it into limestone. When investing in carbon capture, important questions would be around:

1.“What is the intended use of the captured carbon?”
2. “What is the efficiency and conversion rate of the technology?”
3. “Are the uses of the captured carbon beneficial and safe?”

Heather Langsner, VP Impact

The DOE also announced in January that $8Million would go toward Projects to Develop Algae-Based CO2 Utilization.

Revenue from negative emissions or carbon offsets could reach $1.4 trillion annually by 2050, up from about $300 million today according to a study published by Vivid Economics.

Become a Climeworks Pioneer here — there are currently 4,552.

Solutions for the Greatest Threat Facing Nature and Humanity Today — highly recommended brief read.

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