Apr 4, 2022 - Energy & Environment

What direct air capture can achieve — in theory

A chart showing global CO2 capture over time
Image via the International Energy Agency

There's growing financial and policy momentum behind direct air capture tech that pulls CO2 from the atmosphere, a new International Energy Agency report finds.

Yes, but: There's a long way to go before the tech, which is only in nascent stages of deployment, can play a meaningful role in combating climate change.

  • IEA's net-zero emissions roadmap envisions DAC capturing over 85 million metric tons of CO2 in 2030 and around 980 million in 2050.
  • That would require an immense scale-up and lower costs. The amount captured today? 0.01 million.

Why it matters: Carbon removal methods including DAC are needed to complement the steep emissions cuts to keep the Paris Agreement goals from slipping away.

State of play: The bipartisan infrastructure provides $3.5 billion for developing U.S. DAC "hubs" to demonstrate the tech. Also, some companies are already selling CO2 removal credits based on future deployment, and DAC startups are attracting VC investment.

What's next: The report offers recommendations to speed-up global deployment beyond the facilities operating and those that are planned.They include more government financial backing, but also steps to identify CO2 storage locations, develop standardized certification and accounting, and more.

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