Carbon Removal

Carbon removal refers to taking existing CO₂ out of the atmosphere. This is difficult but not impossible. It is already being done in a few different ways. Note that carbon removal is different from reducing or avoiding emissions as it requires taking existing CO₂ out of the atmosphere. This is different to emission avoidance, which is rather about not introducing new CO₂ to the atmosphere.

Emission avoidance

1 tonne CO₂

dumb

Introduced through extraction and use of fossil fuels

1 tonne CO₂

dumb

Carbon Capture and Storage stops the CO₂ from getting emitted

The net effect is zero

Carbon removal

1 tonne CO₂

dumb

CO₂ is captured directly from air or from biomass

1 tonne CO₂

dumb

and the CO2 is stored permanently, to remove it from the atmosphere

The net effect is negative

There is one big challenge that we face if we are to remove CO₂ from the atmosphere: there is no one responsible for these legacy emissions. That is why Microsoft kickstarted the voluntary market for Carbon Dioxide Removal in 2021: To create incentives for companies to take CO₂ out of the atmosphere. Several companies are following Microsoft’s example, contributing to the growth in the number of carbon removal solutions. Yet, the market is at an early stage. Policy measures to incentivize carbon removal are also getting developed in multiple countries.. We need to remove CO₂ from the atmosphere, if we are to reach the Paris Agreement target of 1.5C temperature increase.

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