Carbon Removal Portfolio Methodology

Since we launched our ready-made portfolio of carbon removal we've been asked - a lot! - how we decide what is "high quality" and promising enough to be included in it.

This short article is a quick summary of our thinking and methodology for evaluating climate change fighting solutions or technologies that we want to support and help to reach megatonne* and then gigatonne* per year carbon removal* capacity.

What is Carbon Removal?

It's helpful to start by saying that carbon removal isn't like offsetting* using emissions avoidance* measures or tactics that don't directly sequester* carbon from the air.

We're not throwing shade on other types of climate solutions. Many have value in other ways than primarily reducing the amount of planet-heating emissions that are causing The Climate Crisis and the continued increase in global temperatures.

By definition, a carbon removal solution has to take out and safely store emissions from the atmosphere for a period of time. The longer the better. This is what we're all about.

Carbon Removal Portfolio Methodology

There's loads of amazing science happening around the world on how to best remove some of the billions and billions of tonnes of carbon dixoide humans have pumped out over the last couple hundred of years from our use of fossil fuels*.

Our methodology involves researching, evaluating, comparing, tracking and supporting carbon removal solutions that have the potential to grow to millions of tonnes per year and beyond.

As long as it has a solid scientific foundation and a pathway to become fully verified and certified it could be anything that's nature-based*, tech-enabled* or fully engineered*.

A main requirement is that the solution removes planet-heating gases for hundreds to thousands of years (or more).

We then balance the stage of any project with the credibility of the plan to grow the amount of carbon removal capacity with the the criteria below. With particular focus on permanence and durability, additionality and the verifiability that the carbon will be removed and stored in the quantity we want.

Through this methodology we decide on what constitutes a high-quality enough carbon removal solution or project to be a part of our portfolio.

Evaluating Carbon Removal Projects for our Portfolio

Carbon Removal Portfolio Criteria #1

Permanence

Each type locks away emissions for a different amount of time. We look for verified projects that have as long as possible permanence. It varies from about 100 to tens of thousands of years. 

Carbon Removal Portfolio Criteria #2

Additionality

Does the project remove emissions from the atmosphere - and lock them away - than would have been if no action had been taken? We look for the highest levels of extra carbon removal.

Carbon Removal Portfolio Criteria #3

Co-benefits

We love projects that have more benefits in tackling climate change and ecological breakdown than just removing or reducing emissions. We look for projects that also regenerate nature. 

Carbon Removal Portfolio Criteria #4

Vintage

The year that the carbon will be removed. Ideally the sooner the better. We'll say what the vintage is, as it will vary by the project type - from this year to a few years down the line.

We also segment the solution and project by maturity. This helps also align with how established the science is for any individual approach or organization.

The groupings are Pilot (<10k tonnes), Growth (up to ~200k tonnes) and Scale (ramping up to megatonnes* per year and beyond).

Due to the stage of CDR's development most of the projects we'll initially support will fall into the Growth phase. Our goal is to do more both earlier and later, as the industry develops.

Why a blend of solutions?


What inspired us originally was that we couldn't find anything with the mix or focus on permanence and additionality we wanted. So we made it.

We've taken the portfolio approach as there won't be one silver bullet solution or company that will win out over all the others. Each group of solutions - and more - are needed to add-up to the amount of annual carbon removal we need to build now and grow for the future.

To reach the 5 to 10 billion tonnes PER YEAR of carbon removal that it is widely agreed we need by 2050 it is paramount we start ramping up now.

Combining that capability with decarbonizing* as much of what we humans do through global greenhouse gas* emissions reductions is the best, most science-backed, pathway we have to tackling human-caused climate change and pulling the world back from The Climate Crisis*.

As we're all about transparency we'll be writing more about our methodology and selection criteria in the future. Watch this space!

If you'd like to go deeper into carbon removal join our free Carbon Removal Online Course. It starts every Monday and each installment is an easy-to-read in 5 to 10 minute burst!

Have hope, make progress 💚

Team Zopeful

PS - you can find explainers on the terms in italics with astericks* in our Climate Buzzword Dictionary (yes, we're aware it's more of a glossary!)

Learn more + join our Carbon Removal Portfolio