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Photo Illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Microsoft's early finance of carbon removal projects as part of its wider climate pledge has revealed hurdles that must be overcome to enable large-scale deployment of the technologies.

Driving the news: Microsoft officials and other experts, in a piece in the journal Nature, describe efforts by Microsoft and the online payments platform Stripe to contract with companies that pull CO2 from the atmosphere.

"Although these are just two companies’ efforts, they are the first significant open solicitations focused exclusively on carbon removal," they note.

What they found: One takeaway is that supply of viable removal services is still very limited if you want to ensure the CO2 stays sequestered.

  • Microsoft received 189 proposals offering 154 megatonnes of CO2 (MtCO2) removal in coming years, but just a third was immediately available and just 2 MtCO2 met their "high quality" criteria.
  • Another lesson: The young sector needs consistent standards and definitions around measuring, verifying and reporting removal. "Such ambiguity is a barrier to investment," they write.

What's next: The analysis offers recommendations for growing and improving the market for services like forestry and other nature-based systems and nascent direct air capture tech.

  • For instance, they note that multiple approaches have been floated to standardize definitions, yet "these comparisons hinge on choices of a few parameters, such as economic rates."
  • "Factors such as competition for land use, limits to ecosystem-carrying capacity and social and environmental impacts need to be accounted for."

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Oct 5, 2021 - Technology

Windows cranks it up to 11

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Like an aging rock star seeking to reach a new audience, Microsoft is betting Windows 11 will help it connect with a new generation.

Why it matters: Microsoft could once count on a huge portion of the computing market automatically choosing Windows because their business demanded it or they needed a specific app that wasn't available elsewhere. Today, many businesses are putting the choice between Mac or Windows in the hands of individual workers.

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest.

Why it matters: The atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, was causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood, as it slowly moved south overnight. It's triggered widespread power outages, flooding and mudslides.

In photos: Drought-ravaged California lashed by major storm

Workers try to divert water into drains as rain pours down on Oct. 24 in Marin City, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A major storm system was pummeling Northern California and parts of the Pacific Northwest with heavy rains overnight.

The big picture: "Atmospheric river" storms, associated with a record-strong "bomb cyclone" offshore from the Pacific Northwest, have brought flooding and mudslides to parts of California that were razed by recent wildfires and in severe drought. It's also caused widespread power outages in California and Washington state.