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Why carbon removal is important. Now.

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Climate change is happening. And it’s a result of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by human activity. The accumulation of CO₂ in the air has warmed the world by about 1°C since pre-industrial times and the impacts are being felt across the world, albeit not uniformly.

In the 2015 Paris Agreement and world leaders of 195 countries set the goal of limiting the increase in the global average temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. This will curb, but not completely avoid, the risk of extreme weather events, extinction of species, food supply constraints and other environmental, societal and health impacts.

To achieve the 1.5°C goal, emissions need to be reduced rapidly this decade, and we need to reach net zero by 2050.

But even if we make great progress in reducing emissions, we will still be left with some. Achieving net zero on that timescale therefore also necessitates removing a significant amount of CO₂ from our atmosphere.

Do our best (to reduce), remove the rest!

Swiss Re: The insurance rationale for carbon removal solutions

Our purpose

We need to remove carbon…

Scientists project that we will have to remove around 10 gigatons – i.e. 10,000,000,000 tons – of CO₂ per year to reach our net zero targets by 2050.

Currently, almost all carbon removal (CDR) stems from land management, such as reforestation. Though crucial, this method has its limitations: it is not permanent (e.g. trees can burn down) and has limited space capacity.

Closing the gap requires rapid growth of novel CDR – of a factor of at least 5,000, according to recent calculations. Novel methods include: bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), direct air capture with carbon storage (DACCS), enhanced rock weathering or biochar.

now and in the long term.

As carbon is so ingrained in everything we use and do, there are emission sources that we will most probably not be able to eliminate completely, for example in heavy industry, aviation, or agriculture.

For these unavoidable emissions, we also need carbon removal beyond 2050.

So we need to scale-up CDR. Today.

Bridging this gap calls for a systemic approach comprising technology, policy and large-scale investments to create a trusted and effective carbon removal market at high speed and scale.

The good news is that a variety of CDR solutions that can help solve this global challenge have already been developed.

The even better news is that some solutions – such as neustark’s mineralization technology – have already been developed and deployed. And are already removing CO₂ today. Now, they need to be scaled up quickly and effectively.

Neustark’s ambition

We have developed and deployed a solution that allows to remove carbon permanently. And that has an impact today – and even more tomorrow.

We are currently scaling up our reach (number of sites) and impact (number of tons stored) on our journey to durably removing 1 million tons of CO₂ in 2030 – and beyond.

CDR 09 flare

FAQs

  • Carbon dioxide removal (CDR), commonly also referred to as carbon removal, is a process that involves extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and harmlessly sequestering (i.e. storing) it in geological, terrestrial, or ocean reservoirs – also known as natural carbon sinks – or by using the CO₂ for another purpose where it is stored permanently.

  • The amount of CDR we will need depends on our choices: how much we choose to limit the rise in global temperature, how much we choose to reduce emissions, and in which timeframe.

    The Special Report on 1.5°C by the IPCC underlines that pathways that limit global warming to 1.5°C will require carbon and other GHG removal on the order of 100–1000 billion tons of CO₂ over the 21st century.

    See chart below: Necessary order of magnitude for carbon removal for emission path of 1.5°C (data source: Network for Greening the Financial System Scenario Explorer. Model: REMIND-MAgPIE 1.7-3.0; provided by IIASA).

    Statistic carbon removal
  • There are a number of carbon removal or negative emissions technologies (NET) that can use biological or technological approaches to remove CO₂ from the atmosphere and store it on a more or less permanent basis.

    Essentially, CO₂ can be captured in biomass (through photosynthesis) or by chemical means (using air filters or mineral sequestration). The CO₂ is then stored in biomass on the earth's surface (e.g. in wood), in the soil, in the geological substrate, in minerals or in the seabed.

    For these technologies to generate negative emissions to a degree that affects the climate, the CO₂ must be stored for a long time, preferably for thousands if not millions of years.

    CO₂ stored in forest biomass or in humus in the soil is more liable to end up back in the air than CO₂ sequestered deep underground or in minerals, due for example to exceptional events (such as forest fires) or intensive soil tillage.

    There is a need to shift to technology-based removal while maintaining historical nature-based carbon sinks. Why? Because nature-based sequestration has its limitations in permanence as well as capacity. There is a clear need for additional tech-based removal, the potential of which is abundant.

    For more information, see Swiss Federal Office for the Environment’s classification: factsheet.

  • Current research shows that there is no single solution that could be deployed at scale to remove hundreds of gigatons of CO₂ from the atmosphere by the end of this century.

    Some proposals for carbon removal are at a very early stage in their development, others are more established. They vary in cost, how much they can remove and in the resources they require (such as land, water and energy). Some carry risks, for instance due to costs of land conversion and biodiversity loss, particularly if deployed on very large scales. Some bring co-benefits, for instance generating power, reversing biodiversity loss or providing useful materials. Some may prove unsuccessful in scaling up. Importantly, there is still much scope for innovation and improvement, and some techniques will work better in some contexts than others.

    The answer is in the mix – and with a focus on solutions that have been proven both ecologically and economically feasible and can make a significant impact in the next decade.

  • CDR removes carbon from the atmosphere, thus removing previous emissions – enabling us to address both unavoidable and historic emissions.

    CCS prevents carbon from entering the atmosphere – making it a concept that focuses on reducing emissions.

  • Neustark sources CO₂ from biogas production sites and stores it in demolished concrete permanently.

    The CO₂ sourced from the biogas sites is biogenic CO₂, i.e. if released into the atmosphere by the biogas plants, the process would be carbon-neutral (as the plants combusted in the process already absorbed CO₂ earlier in their life cycle).

    By capturing and storing this biogenic CO₂, neustark removes carbon-neutral emissions that would otherwise have gone into the atmosphere – hence creating negative emissions.