Why is it important to invest in carbon removal now?
Carbon removal will increasingly be an important tool to help us decarbonize* the world and reach net zero*. It needs investment now to be ready when we most need it.
The carbon removal industry is just getting warmed up. It's only over the last few years we've seen increasing investment and focus on ways to take carbon emissions out of the atmosphere, and lock them away so they don't contribute to climate change by trapping heat.
The size of the emissions* reduction challenge is what makes investing in carbon removal - both nature and technology based methods - a very worthwhile and wise effort.
If humanity is to hit our Net Zero 2050 ambition we'll need somewhere between 5 to 10 billion tonnes of carbon removal (per year!) as soon as possible, even if we've reduced 95% of today's yearly greenhouse gases emissions. At the present size of the industry, the total amount we can remove annually is in the hundreds of thousands of tonnes (as a best guess).
In the future carbon removal capacity will be used to take out new emissions we've been unable to reduce, and also to draw down a bunch of the historic emissions causing the heating. This will gradually pull back the levels of greenhouse gases closer to what they were before humans started burning huge amounts of fossil fuels.
At present the technologies are showing a lot of promise, and some are already proven and ready to get bigger. By getting bigger they'll also get cheaper as we learn to do them more efficiently at scale.
Why is it important to invest in them now?
Investing in them now not only helps get the cost down in the future, it will also start removing emissions from now, which helps buy us more time to reduce. It's a clear win-win.
When combined with large emissions reductions, the investment in carbon removal will help make a dent in The Climate Crisis*. The two combined are our best path to limiting the impacts of human-caused climate change.
We think that each carbon removal category matters in its own right - whether nature or tech based. They're all helpful tools on the road to net zero. Some are more useful immediately, and others will become increasingly helpful down the line.
Investing now not only means that they'll be ready, at the large scale we need, sooner, it also means we start the very real task of taking out increasingly larger amounts of the greenhouse gases causing the heating of the planet and all the related negative impacts that is causing.
Isn't reducing emissions enough?
Not really. Since industrialization humans have emitted A LOT of carbon dixoide and equivalents.
We continue to do so. The science shows that while we do have some time to reduce emissions to zero, we don't have time to wait to start making massive efforts to reduce and remove greenhouse gases.
If you've been on one of our courses you'll know how important we think real and sustained emissions reductions are (it's what the science shows us!). It's a huge - main - part of the effort.
Where carbon removal comes in is to bring that level back down towards where it was naturally, prior to us humans, as well as to give us more tools to help us limit climate change.
The science shows that neither reduction or removal will prevent all the impacts of the climate change already happening, though they will make them less severe, give us more time to adapt and help us be more able to mitigate them.
Removing more and more emissions from as earlier a point as possible will also likely buy us more time to decarbonize everything we do.
It's both. And as much of each that we can find. The more of each - reductions and removals - we have the more positive feedback we gain from them interacting together to slow and reverse the heating up of our planet.
Isn't this something governments and big companies should do?
Well, yes, they both play a massive role in funding and being customers for carbon removal. Though them alone will not be enough.
A question we're thinking about a lot is: do we want to keep waiting for them to lead? And when they do, will they do so with the energy that this challenge requires?
That's where we individuals have a role as well. We can all each do as much as we want to. We can play an active role in both limiting emissions as well as removing them. Taking part as well as encouraging others too as well. We can be a part of the solution and contribute to building the zero emissions world of tomorrow.
For us that's genuinely inspiring and exciting. It's an embodiment of the hope and progress we think will make big dents in tackling an issue as big as climate change. Big or small, it all adds up and it matters.
So what's next?
What's better - carbon emissions reduction or removal? Take a look at this article.
Not sure what carbon removal is? Read Carbon Removal 101.
Have hope, make progress! 💚
Climate Buzzword Dictionary
Decarbonize - disconnect all the things humanity does from creating carbon emissions. The process to stop emitting Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere
Net Zero - a target to stop producing Greenhouse Gases from human activity by 2050. It combines reducing, removing as well as offsetting hard to eliminate emissions. Also called Net-zero 2050
Greenhouse Gases - Abbreviated to GHG. 98% made up of Carbon Dioxide, Methane or Nitrous Oxide. Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. See Carbon and Equivalen
Emissions - the creation and release of Greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by human activities
The Climate Crisis / Climate Change - the accelerating heating of our planet caused by human activity
Learn more climate science and related terminology