The Carbon Removal Industry Needs To Grow To Be The Size Of The Oil And Gas Industry

from Fast Company

Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have spewed an extra 2.4 trillion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, pushing the average global temperature up more than 1.2 degrees Celsius. The world adds another 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year. We’re already seeing what that means, from catastrophic flooding to heat waves that scientists thought were statistically impossible. As emissions shrink, the world will also need a way to pull the CO2 we’ve already emitted out of the air, both to cover the continued emissions of industries that are hard to decarbonize and to correct the historical imbalance.

By one estimate, even as the world eliminates almost all emissions, we’ll need to be able to capture 10 billion tons of CO2 a year by 2050, and 20 billion tons a year later in the century, using both nature-based solutions like trees and new technology like direct air capture machines. A recent report from Swiss Re, the reinsurance company, points out that accomplishing that would require an industry the size of the current oil and gas industry.

The 20 billion metric ton benchmark “corresponds to today’s emissions generated by human consumption of all oil and gas products in one year,” the authors write. “If it takes a trillion-dollar industry to provide for all the oil and gas that causes 20 billion tonnes of emissions today, it will take the next trillion-dollar industry to remove that same amount from the atmosphere in 2050.”

That’s a massive challenge, because the carbon removal industry is tiny now, removing only around 10,000 metric tons of emissions a year. More startups are entering the field now, attempting to make successful businesses that capture carbon in soil on farm fields, plant trees, and turn captured carbon into products like fuel and vodka. But the industry will have to grow by a factor of a million over a few decades, the report says, at a growth rate of around 60%.

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6 Comments

  1. In this article, the author, Adele Peters, discusses how the rise of the Industrial Revolution has caused over 2 trillion tons of excess carbon dioxide to be emitted into the atmosphere. She goes on to explain how we need to find a solution to not only decrease emissions, but also de-carbonize the atmosphere. After reading this article, I would compare Peters’ ideology regarding carbon emissions to the metaphor “what goes up must come down”. All these booming oil and gas companies are releasing harmful gases, such as carbon dioxide, into the air right now, however, eventually we will need to find an efficient way to bring all these harmful chemicals back down to earth. They go on to explain in the articles how reforestation is one of the main remedies to aid this problem. All the forest fires that have been happening in states, such as California, lately have not put a good outlook on this potential solution. Not only are all these trees burning down due to natural forest fires, but these fires are filling the air with smoke, which can only bring us closer to our final issue of global warming and climate change. I find that these carbon removal machines might be too pricey and not effective enough for these companies in the oil and gas industry, however, it would be very beneficial to the future generations if these companies set aside a significant budget each year that goes toward planting more trees. These trees would be cheaper than any other option, positively impact reforestation, and be a big help in filtering the air for future generations to come.

  2. This article “The carbon removal industry needs to grow to be the size of the oil and gas industry”, by Adele Peter, is very interesting but at the same time very frightening. Through many facts and information, Peters shows us how urgent it is to push the environmental protection to the maximum. The extent is hardly imaginable. It is simply too little what all countries undertake for climate protection and against climate change. In the meantime, we are increasingly feeling the effects of climate change through the growing number of environmental catastrophes. Floods, heat waves, or droughts will occur more and more often in the future. I found it very good how Peters outlined that it is not only about carbon removal, but also about cutting emissions. Many companies only do carbon removal for the sake of a good image, while still blowing unrestricted emissions into the atmosphere. It is only a drop in the bucket when companies plant a few trees to present themselves as climate protectors. Peters suggests for example, “some solutions could easily be deployed immediately, such as more reforestation, and that deployment could happen if a carbon fee existed.” These adjustments would be a first step in the right direction. In my opinion, the main responsibility lies with the respective governments of the countries. Only the governments can force the various companies to reduce carbon removal and emissions through regulations and penalties. However, all countries must pull together since it is no use if only 50% of the countries force this change of course. In addition, countries must create better incentives for renewable energy in addition to regulations, as companies will always make the most economical decisions. Furthermore, consumers, in other words really all people, must also be held responsible, and not just the companies. From my perception we must raise more awareness in things clearing-up of the climatic change to make everyone consider climatic protection. After all we are responsible for the coming generations to leave them a livable earth.

  3. In the article, “The Carbon Removal Industry Needs To Grow To Be The Size Of The Oil And Gas Industry” by Adele Peters, The carbon emissions are a serious problem that needs to taken more seriously. The world has worried about gathering and using oil and other recourses for so long without thinking of the consequences. People tend to forget but we only have one earth and we are destroying it much faster than we should be. The Carbon Removal should be bigger than any other industry as its the most important thing as we need to breath. Elon Musk came out and said he would invest a hundred million dollars in a start up that had a invention that could reverse carbon emissions and in the long run, save the world. I think we should give many of these inventors money to see if they can figure out a way to save the planet.

  4. This article, “The Carbon Removal Industry Needs To Grow To Be The Size Of The Oil And Gas Industry” by Adele Peters, explains what carbon emissions have done to the world’s environment and the radical solutions to save the Earth’s ecosystem. The author states how there’s almost nothing being done to stop the annual rate of pollution going into the atmosphere. I do believe that we all have benefited from the use of fossil fuels, but the long-term use of non-renewable resources will only result in devastating consequences for our planet. We should stop being so self-reliant on non-renewable energy, and instead start investing in renewable resources. Although the use of solar energy and windmills may not always be as efficient as oil or coal, our world’s climate has been overwhelmed by CO2 emissions. As of now, the carbon removal industry is puny when compared to the fossil fuel industries. More money needs to be invested into cleaner energy so that we do not have to face the prolonged effects of climate change. Despite electric cars currently being more expensive than cars that run on gas, they’re very eco-friendly and they are the best way for people to help the environment. Research shows that over time, vehicles that run on electricity will become cheaper as technology and car batteries become more advanced. I personally believe that before we can attain 100% clean energy, we should currently adapt from fossil fuels instead of being completely against the use of non-renewable energy. Outlawing all uses of non-renewable resources right away would just result in an economic crisis. Millions of Americans have jobs in the fossil fuel industries and these people should be given new jobs over time. We must take small steps to solve climate change so that society can adjust to sustainable resources. This process will take at least decades to complete and radical changes will be necessary, but our ecosystem is desperate for change. If action is not taken soon, the effects of carbon emissions on our planet will only become more severe.

  5. Climate change is the biggest challenge humanity has faced in history, we created the problem and if we want to live, we must solve it. Carbon and oil are the two biggest contaminators as of today, and both already have alternatives, Oil has electricity and different plants that we can transform into plastic, carbon has the alternative of natural gas. Eliminating the carbon that is now in the air is a big problem, carbon businessmen have a lot of power, and stopping them seems impossible but eliminating their contaminating legacy could be possible thanks to initiatives like the Air Company that is transforming carbon into vodka if governments push other liquor companies to do the same a good part of the carbon footprint could be eliminated. But the author said it, we need more than the carbon removal industry, we need the carbon industry to decrease in size, so the impact is bigger. I think that this is the main problem we have today and companies like the Air Company should be advertised more, and articles like this one should be on every newspaper front page.

  6. Surprisingly, after all of the evidence proving the problems of carbon emission, the carbon removal industry is still the size it is. Pollution is at the level it is due to acknowledgement with a lack of action. The thing that shocked me the most in the article was the amount of pollutants we put into the air a year. Since the industrial revolution, 2.4 trillion tons of carbon dioxide has been pumped into the air. On a yearly basis, 40 million tons of carbon dioxide is let off into the air a year. Honestly, it’s pretty embarrassing how bad we let the situation get out of control. The lack of action to fix the problem is alarming to say the least. With all of that said, it is not too late to fix the problem. Much like the companies that are spewing out the chemicals, there are companies that are trying to fix the problem. Sadly, the companies that are trying to help aren’t as big as those who are causing the pollution. There is still hope, however. The article states that by 2050, we will be able to clean the air of 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide emission a year and more in the future. This will be achieved both naturally (planting trees) and through technology. At the moment, the carbon dioxide removal industry is very small. This, however, is subject to change. Climate change is at its most prominent. More and more industries are most likely going to pop up in the next few decades. Companies are also becoming to be more mindful of their carbon emissions and are cutting back on some of their carbon footprints. This along with the push for electric cars and boycotts of companies who have high carbon footprints should slowly but surely lead to a decrease of pollutants in the air. Cleaning our air all comes down to us coming together and making a combined effort. We dug ourselves into a pretty steep hole but it’s not too late to better our habits and overall footprint. Other countries have done it, so why can’t we?

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