We’re here to tell you more about why we need to invest in carbon removals (like carbon capture technology and carbon removal technology). In the realm of sustainability, carbon topics reign supreme. It seems as though everyone is talking about decarbonization and international treaties like the Paris Agreement seek to reduce countries’ carbon output to net zero within the next few decades.
Because carbon removal and reduction are such huge aspects of modern sustainability, they have almost become buzzwords; we’ve been told how important carbon reduction is, but why? Companies and governments often discuss their pursuit of carbon targets without going into detail about what exactly that means.
The fact is that greenhouse gases, which are made up of around 79% CO2, are the key contributors to climate change. If global temperatures are to stay below 2º C above pre-industrial temperatures, we need to significantly reduce our emissions while simultaneously removing carbon from the atmosphere.
So, what exactly is carbon capture technology, is it feasible, and will it be enough to keep our planet’s temperatures below catastrophic levels? Let’s take a look.
The role of carbon in our climate
Carbon dioxide makes up a majority of greenhouse gases. To put it simply, it works as a sort of blanket to trap heat and keep the earth warm. At normal CO2 levels, this is a good thing—it prevents heat from escaping and plummeting the earth into unlivable temperatures. However, since the industrial era, humans have been pumping too much CO2 into the atmosphere, causing global temperatures to rise.
Currently, the earth’s temperature is about 1° C above pre-industrial levels. Because carbon dioxide emissions are higher than ever before—they rose by 90% between 1970 and 2004, and in 2019, CO2 concentrations were higher than they have been within the last 800,000 years—the global average temperature is rising at a dangerous rate. According to the United Nations, at the current rate and without stronger reduction targets, the world will warm to 2.7° C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.
Although these numbers seem small, the result will be catastrophic. Warming contributes to extreme weather events like floods, hurricanes, and forest fires, which we’re already experiencing. As a global community, we must work to reduce our carbon emissions. Failure to achieve our targets could result in disaster.
The concept and potential of carbon removal
If we are to achieve climate targets, carbon emission reduction must remain the focus of climate topics—the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi) says that 90% of a company’s decarbonization must be achieved by reducing emissions in order to meet the criteria for net zero. However, offsetting and carbon removal—the remaining 10% of the criteria—will help us reach targets by removing the carbon that does get emitted.
Carbon removal is as the name implies: technology that removes carbon from the atmosphere. Once the carbon is removed, it should be stored in a permanent manner. Although it may seem like something out of a sci-fi film, most carbon removal is currently achieved through reforestation, aforestation, and land management. By replacing and protecting forests, we can rely upon nature’s carbon capture to help regain balance.
However, we currently emit far more carbon than reforestation efforts can capture (which is why we’re talking about why we should invest in carbon removal). Currently, 2 billion tons of CO2 are drawn from the atmosphere per year, primarily through reforestation efforts and fractionally with carbon removal technology. While this is a fantastic start, it does not come close to competing with yearly carbon emissions, which still see an annual rise.
Furthermore, reforestation efforts are limited. Land is a finite resource, and countries need to ensure that there is enough farmland to feed their citizens. It cannot be our only approach to carbon removal.
In order to reach climate goals as set forth by the Paris Agreement, countries must simultaneously reduce their carbon output while developing strategies to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Climate tech approaches may provide the answer. So far, carbon capture technology is promising. Here are some noteworthy approaches of the current ways we invest in carbon capture.
Direct Air Capture (DAC)
This technology uses ventilators to vacuum CO2 from the air, increasing carbon dioxide removal (CDR) capacities beyond reforestation efforts. While this tech is promising and requires very little space, it uses a lot of energy.
Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS)
This climate tech grabs bioenergy from biomass (like wood or organic waste) by capturing the carbon and permanently storing it so that it doesn’t go into the atmosphere. While this has great potential and may result in negative carbon emissions, it is expensive and relies upon the availability of biomass.
The ocean and the atmosphere are connected; too much CO2 in the atmosphere leads to too much CO2 in the ocean and vice versa. By increasing the ocean’s alkalinity, the ocean’s carbon intake would also increase, thereby reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. The concept has been verified, and it’s only a matter of attempting this tech on a larger scale.
Policy considerations and incentives
Through a combination of efforts—emission reduction, carbon removal, and carbon capture technology—it is possible to reach the targets set forth by the Paris Agreement and stop global temperature rise. However, it requires a framework for certified carbon removals to ensure that offsetting and removal efforts are comprehensive.
Carbon removal initiatives can be supported by policies that enact standardization while also incentivizing novel approaches. Our tried and true methods are not enough. If we have any hope of reaching, and ideally exceeding, targets, then we need a portfolio of carbon removal technology so that we can address the shortcomings that are involved in each approach.
The economic aspect: invest in carbon removal
According to investment trends, interest in carbon removal stocks is on the rise. This shows that, even without policies, the market sees potential in carbon capture technology. Furthermore, policymakers are working to create a market in which carbon removal is economically viable.
The Inflation Reduction Act, for example, improves the availability of tax credits for carbon capture, incentivizing its usage. Furthermore, the current administration has funded $3.7 billion toward projects focused on carbon dioxide removal. These will help fund businesses, technology, and research all focused on carbon removal technology. Government investments such as these show the potential for job creation, carbon removal companies, and economic growth.
The environmental impact: balancing benefits and risks
It’s clear that carbon removal technology is needed to reach net zero targets. However, every approach has its own impact and often fails to be comprehensive. For example, reforestation can push into needed farmland, while tech like BECCS is expensive. Therefore, we cannot rely upon one single approach. Instead, we should pursue a variety of strategies so that our efforts are complete.
Critics of carbon capture technology say that focusing on such efforts takes away from what should be our primary goal: developing renewable energy sources. They claim that carbon offsetting and investing in carbon removal will remove resources from renewable energy development and encourage a “business as usual” approach as we continue to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
What these critics fail to note is that carbon removal allows us to take responsibility for the carbon that has already polluted the atmosphere, and it provides some space as we develop viable renewable energy options. The reality is that carbon emissions persist for now. By creating tech that removes carbon from the atmosphere, we buy ourselves some time to develop renewable energy options.
The future of carbon removal: A global call to action
Climate goals rely upon all stakeholders—individuals, businesses, and governments—in order to succeed. While it can be argued that businesses and governments have the most impact, and therefore the most responsibility, individuals have their place in carbon removal, too. This can be seen through consumers’ demand for more sustainable business practices, including reducing the impact of ecommerce and choosing to support companies that are sincerely working toward sustainability targets, such as carbon emissions as well as pushing governments to invest in carbon removals.
Greenhouse gases pose an imminent danger that should have been handled yesterday. But, there’s no time like the present. Companies like yours, that care about sustainable ecommerce, need to do their part to reach global climate goals before it’s too late. It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s good for business. Customers want to support companies that align with their beliefs, and sustainability ranks as a top concern.
EcoCart makes it simple to limit your company’s carbon footprint. Through carbon offsetting, which supports carbon removal projects, your customers can choose carbon neutral shipping, contributing to global efforts. This allows them to enjoy the thrills of online shopping all while contributing to a greener world through a more sustainable cart.
If you’re looking for an easy way to provide carbon neutral shipping, request a demo today and learn how EcoCart can help.