What are carbon removal projects & why do we like them?
Carbon dioxide removal (CDR* for short) projects are those methods, solutions or technologies that actually take CO2 out of the air so it can't contribute to heating up the planet more.
We're already at about 1.2 degrees celsius average temperature above where the world was before humans began the large scale burning of fossil fuels* about 200 ish years ago. The data and science projections look like we'll be breaking through the 1.5 degree safer target from the Paris Agreement* in the next 10 years or so, and towards 2 degrees celsius by mid century.
While this might not sound llike a lot. It is. Neither humans nor the rest of the biosphere* are well adapted for a consistently hotter climate. That's not to mention that at each partial degree of heating the frequency and intensity of extreme events like fires, droughts and floods multiplies. If you're interested in the latest science on this, check out our free 4-day course.)
To combat all the emissions humans are pumping into the atmosphere each and every year - about 50 billion tonnes now - we need to start rapidly reducing that huge number down. That's what net zero* is. It's a target to reduce (aka to decarbonize*) emissions from as much of what we do as possible by 2050.
Reducing this the main bulk of the task ahead and a very, very large chunk of that <cough>about 90% <cough> is stopping using fossil fuels in everything.
For those carbon or other greenhouse gas* emissions that we don't have alternatives for - ideally about 10% of the total emissions - that's the "net" bit of net zero. For these we need to find ways of stopping them being emitted to start with or removing them from the atmosphere.
That's carbon removal. And we're going to need a lot of it by 2050 to hit net zero. Something like 5 to 10 billion tonnes a year. It's a ramp up from where we are but we can absolutely do it.
When we reach net zero we will have effectively stopped further heating of the planet. That's the goal of everything climate change related.
To get to there and then figure out how much further to go. How much further we choose to go at that point is likely to depend on how quickly we get there!
What are carbon removal projects?
Simply they're anything that takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and stores it for a period of time (the longer the better), so that carbon doesn't contribute to further temperature increases.
There's a whole industry getting ready to grow fast enough so that we have the carbon removal capability we'll need, and take more emissions out every year between now and then.
The projects fall into three broad categories. We explore them in a little more detail in this article and we also have a which goes deeper still.
Why do we like them?
We particularly like them as they work in the way we need. They actively take emissions out of the air and store them safely away.
Combined with large scale and sustained emissions reductions, we need carbon removal to keep the temperature increases from global warming to as close to 2 degree celisus as possible. It's the top end of what the science says we should be aiming for. CDR is an important part of helping us achieve that.
There's now an increasing range of CDR solutions that are ready to scale and grow, on that journey to 5 to 10 billion tonnes of removal per year by 2050.
It's possible. There's a long way to go and no time to waste.
Oh my! What can I do?
Good question! We hear you!
Check out this page that's We also have a ready-made fund that buys the we can find, as much of it as we can affor.
We also have a . It's an easy to read dive into CDR, why we need it and its role in solving The Climate Crisis*. Each installment is in a digestible 10 minute burst.
Have hope, make progress 💚
For explanations of all the terms in italics with asterisks* check out our Climate Buzzword Dictionary