Image: Climeworks

The Technology

In order to stop climate change, we need to strongly reduce our emissions of CO2 and other particles. This is still the most important component to stopping climate change, but it will no longer be enough by itself. We also need to find ways to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

The most simple way to remove CO2 is to plant trees, or stop cutting down existing forests. However, there is not enough land in the world to feed 10 billion people, and absorb our emissions. Even if we manage to reduce emissions by 80%, which is an optimistic scenario, we need to combine nature-based solutions with new technologies that physically remove CO2 from the atmosphere. 

“Meeting international climate goals, including net-zero emissions, will almost certainly require some form of carbon removal.”

International Energy Agency

What is Carbon Removal?

Carbon Removal is the process of removing CO2 from the air, and either putting it to use or putting it back in the ground.

CO2 and other Greenhouse Gases are captured naturally by forests and oceans, but carbon removal refers to the human interventions leading to increased removal of carbon from atmospheric air. This can be done either directly from the air or captured in farmlands, forests and oceans.

Why do we need to capture carbon?

The concentration of CO2 in the air is currently just over 417 Parts Per Million, and rising (NASA). We need to get this back down to somewhere between 350 and 400 (EEA).

Virtually all paths to staying within the goals set forth in the Paris Agreement require a substantial amount of Carbon removal, including engineered solutions. 

Storage or utilisation?

Carbon Capture is also generally split up in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU)

CCU has the advantage that you can make—and sell—products from the CO2 that has been captured. This can be anything from adding bubbles to soda to making jet fuel. By selling products, you can lower the price of the Carbon Capture. However, the carbon is still released back into the atmosphere.

CCU is better than extracting new CO2, but it still has a risk of “double counting”. Ie, if we sold Carbon Capture to neutralise your company, you would count yourself neutral. If we then made jet fuel and sold it to an airline, they would also count themselves as neutral.

To avoid this, we are opting for storage, putting the carbon permanently back in the ground where it came from.

Photo: Climeworks

Methods

There are many different ways to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, and all methods have their own strengths and weaknesses. 

Direct Air Capture

Direct air capture (DAC) is a process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the air (as opposed to capturing from point sources, such as a cement factory or power plant) and generating a concentrated stream of CO2 for storage or utilization.

DAC is very promising but also young technology. The cost of capturing a ton of Carbon is relatively high.

If you want to learn about DAC, The IEA has a great resource on the topic.

Image: Climeworks

 

Soil Sequestration

Carbon sequestration is the long-term removal, capture or sequestration of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to slow or reverse atmospheric CO2 pollution and to mitigate or reverse global warming.

At Klimate, we are partnering with multiple suppliers for sequestration through Soil Carbon Storage. This refers to techniques that can increase the amount of carbon stored in soils on agricultural and managed lands. 

This progress is less cost-intensive than DAC, but more direct than working with ie. deforestation or reforestation. 

Combining methods

Suppliers of carbon capture are technology-focused. Even within specific types, each company has a their specific approach which they are championing. 

At Klimate, we believe that we need to help drive all the technologies forward. At the same time, our thesis is that if we can combine the methods based on cost, we will be able to offer a price-point that can compete with Quotas and off-sets, while truly removing carbon from the atmosphere while driving the technology forward.