Amazon backs new carbon tech to try to reach "net zero" emissions
Amazon just became the latest corporate giant to back direct air capture (DAC) technology.
Driving the news: The company on Tuesday announced plans to buy 250,000 tons of removal and permanent storage services over 10 years from 1PointFive, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum.
- The removal will occur at a Texas plant under construction that's slated to start operating in 2025.
- Amazon also revealed it's investing in CarbonCapture, a developer of modular DAC systems, via its $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund.
- Neither deal's terms were disclosed.
Why it matters: It's the tech giant's first foray into DAC, one of the carbon removal methods receiving growing investor and federal support.
- The 1PointFive agreement is among the largest corporate removal purchases to date, similar to the 315,000 ton Microsoft-Heirloom deal announced last week.
- Amazon is joining others, including Meta, Alphabet and JPMorgan, in buying DAC services.
Catch up fast: 1PointFive is also a key player in a separate Texas project supported by an Energy Department-backed DAC "hubs" program.
The big picture: DAC is now among the tools Amazon's banking on — to some degree — to help reach its vow to be "net zero" emissions by 2040.
- The company is involved with a suite of renewable power projects and efforts to electrify its gigantic delivery fleet, among other steps.
- The pledge fund, meanwhile, is supporting roughly two dozen startups representing a wide range of climate technologies.
State of play: Amazon needs multiple tools.
- It has a big CO2 footprint (partly due to all that shipping), and last year its absolute emissions fell by 0.4% to roughly 71.3 million metric tons, per Amazon's sustainability report.
- Kara Hurst, VP for worldwide sustainability, said in a statement that DAC can "complement" initiatives to directly cut corporate emissions.
The bottom line: These removal volumes are a rounding error compared with what's needed for DAC to become a viable way to help stem climate change.
- Eventually reaching gigaton scale will rely on more of the kinds of investments we're seeing today.