Carbon removal: the basics

HOW DOES IT WORK?

 

Carbon removal comes in many forms. One of the most common forms of carbon removal is happening right now, probably within a short walk of wherever you are: trees. Trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO₂) and emit oxygen, permanently removing carbon molecules from the air.

Planting trees is a low cost and effective way to remove carbon, but it takes a lot of time and manpower. Unfortunately, for every tree you plant there are hundreds more being destroyed by agribusiness. Although planting trees is something we need to be doing, that alone won't reverse climate change. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of more promising, large-scale ways to remove carbon and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE 

 

For thousands of years, farmers relied on the health and nutrients naturally found in soil to grow the crop they planted. 

At some point, fertilizers were invented and soil became simply the dirt that holds plants in place rather than the source of the plants’ nutrition.

This shift in practices has led to soil erosion and the loss of microorganisms that make up healthy, nutritious soil. As the soil erodes, farmers must further their reliance on fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides in hopes of maintaining consistent crop yields. 

The microorganisms lost in this process are carbon based, like all life. Micro may mean small, but don't let that fool you. Add the trillions of tiny organisms underground together and they vastly outweigh the sum of all humanity. 

By switching to more sustainable farming practices--such as using cover crops in the winter, limiting how much the soil is tilled, and rotating crops every year--we can regenerate the life in the soil and effectively transfer massive amounts of carbon from the air back into the soil where it belongs. 

DIRECT AIR CAPTURE

 

Another form of carbon removal uses direct air capture (DAC) technology to draw air through fans and filters that absorb carbon and other greenhouse gases. The absorbed carbon can then be further contained and become either carbon neutral or carbon negative.

Carbon neutral: carbon is safely reused in various forms, such as by mixing it with hydrogen to create a net-neutral, liquid fuel or by trapping it within other materials, like plastics, concrete, etc. 

Carbon negative: carbon is buried deep within the Earth and sequestered (removed) permanently, thereby becoming net-negative. Unfortunately, this path comes with its hurdles. 

Carbon sequestration does not create a revenue stream, so it’s difficult for businesses to become involved in. It's also a fairly expensive way to remove carbon, and scaling this technology up will require significantly more capital, as well as infrastructure. However, despite the current limitations, we need every tool at our disposal to reverse climate change!

Right now, carbon sequestration relies on either government funding or the volunteer market in the form of companies like ours, Goodbye Carbon.

CARBON REMOVAL PROJECTS

 

The two main carbon removing projects we fund are Climeworks and Nori Marketplace.

Climeworks manufactures Direct Air Capture equipment. They operate a facility in Iceland that uses DAC to sequester carbon deep underground into a basaltic rock formation where it slowly turns to stone.

Nori is a marketplace for Carbon Removal Credits (CRCs). Farmers practicing regenerative agriculture can have the amount of carbon they remove measured and properly verified as sequestered. One ton of carbon removed creates one CRC. Farmers sell their CRCs which are added to the Nori marketplace. Individuals and companies wishing to offset their carbon footprint can purchase these CRCs. 

Goodbye Carbon is committed to funding the most impactful carbon removal projects. If you are aware of a promising project you would like us to look into funding, please email us at info@goodbyecarbon.org