Feb 23, 2023 - Energy & Environment

The carbon removal industry puts down roots as it grows

Illustration of three pencils erasing the phrase "CO2".

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

An industry group seeking stronger federal and state policies to scale up a suite of technologies that permanently remove CO2 from the atmosphere launched Thursday morning.

Driving the news: The Carbon Removal Alliance brings together 20+ members, spanning removal companies with multiple methods, buyers and more.

  • Members include Charm Industrial, Lithos Carbon, Stripe, Climeworks and CarbonBuilt, to name a few.
  • The executive director is Giana Amador, who co-founded the advocacy group Carbon180 in the mid-2010s.
  • The new group's founding ethos is that projects should bring permanent and verifiable removal and show they're net negative.

Why it matters: Removal needs to scale up massively to help meet climate goals by complementing emissions-cutting energy tech.

What's next: "Having a member-oriented organization allows us to directly surface a lot of the challenges that entrepreneurs are facing, in developing and commercializing these technologies in a way that really hasn't happened before," Amador tells Axios.

  • The alliance is organized as a 501(c)(4), allowing it to devote significant resources to lobbying in addition to its educational and intra-industry work.

The big picture: Private finance and federal support has grown in recent years.

  • Some big steps: $3.5 billion in the bipartisan infrastructure law for creating Energy Department-led direct air capture "hubs" and expanded tax incentives for carbon-sucking projects in the new climate law.
  • But Amador says important gaps remain. The organization's goals include federal incentives for a wider range of removal methods and implementing existing laws in a tech-neutral way.

What they're saying: Amador said energy policies have traditionally been written in a way that it's "easy to slot technologies in, like direct air capture, which have a single facility or a single point of storage."

  • "That becomes very different when we're talking about approaches, for example, in the oceans or approaches where we're applying carbon reactive rocks on agricultural fields."

Quick take: It's a key part of a wider trend — the emergence of removal advocacy and industry lobbying infrastructure that's well-established with more mature climate tech like wind and EVs.

The bottom line: "We're at this really exciting inflection point for the field that as [it] matures and as carbon removal solutions scale, it's really important to make sure that the projects moving forward are extremely high quality," Amador said.

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