To restore a healthy balance of carbon dioxide, it is not enough to reduce emissions. We need to remove unavoidable and historic carbon emissions from the air and store them safely and permanently. Climate scenarios that limit global warming to 1.5 °C rely on large-scale applications of carbon dioxide removal technologies like Climeworks’ direct air capture. According to the IPCC, removal of carbon dioxide from the air needs to be scaled up to 810 billion tonnes by 2100.
Climeworks’ direct air capture and storage is a scalable solution that can remove carbon dioxide from the air in a permanent and safe way and does not compete with arable land. Scientists, opinion leaders and corporations are not only addressing the need for this technology, but are actively supporting its scale-up.
In 2017, The Economist pointed out that “greenhouse gases must be scrubbed from the air” and emphasised the scientific consensus outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement. The Economist also addressed the fact that direct air capture does not come without its challenges and needs to be scaled up rapidly. It pointed to the need for costs to come down. Four years ago, the costs of carbon dioxide removal were considered too high to be commercially viable. However, Climeworks is the first direct air capture company able to offer the service of carbon dioxide removal to everyone – and in doing so, proves that a market for measurable and permanent carbon dioxide removal exists.
As The Economist outlined in September 2020, “which technologies and firms flourish, will depend to a large degree on getting the right pattern of regulations, subsidy and pricing”. Purchasing carbon dioxide removal credits can help to rapidly scale this much-needed climate technology, in turn leading to lower costs.
The costs of direct air capture are still high compared to other carbon dioxide removal solutions. Direct air capture and storage requires the least arable land, and provides a safe and permanent storage solution for millions of years. Pioneering customers like The Economist Group enable Climeworks to pursue its scale-up and become climate-relevant faster.
After covering the topic of direct air capture in detail, The Economist Group is taking climate action and proactively supporting the scale-up by purchasing Climeworks’ carbon dioxide removal while focusing on drastically reducing its own carbon footprint. Currently the amount of CO2 removed will equate to 13% of The Economist Group’s Scope 1 & 2 emissions in 2019, leading the way to carbon dioxide removal becoming an important component in The Economist Group’s sustainability strategy.