Carbon emissions with sunset

US pledges £2.9bn to advance carbon removal initiatives

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The US Energy Department has launched a programme to fund four large-scale projects across the country that can remove carbon dioxide from the air.

Carbon removal initiatives are intended to reverse the effects of climate change. The nascent technology's capability to remove carbon dioxide has been hailed by the Biden administration as being vital to ensure that the country meets the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

In pursuit of this commitment, the US Energy Department has launched a $3.5bn (£2.9bn) programme to fund four large-scale carbon removal projects. 

The pledge is part of the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and it will oversee the creation of four regional direct air capture hubs to spur the widespread deployment of the technology and carbon dioxide transport and storage infrastructure.

“The UN's latest climate report made clear that removing legacy carbon pollution from the air through direct air capture and safely storing it is an essential weapon in our fight against the climate crisis,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

From planting trees that soak up carbon to grow, to capturing carbon dioxide directly from the air, carbon removal technologies can take different shapes and sizes, but they all share one goal: to slow down global warming. 

Carbon removal technology has gained major attention and investment in recent months. Currently, there are three major direct air capture projects under development that have emerged in North America and Europe, but so far they have only been able to capture small amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Private companies are also joining the effort. Earlier this year, technology firms Google, Shopify, Meta and Stripe launched a $1bn (around £800m) fund that will buy carbon removal credits over the next decade as a way to incentivise the rapid deployment of the technology. Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has also made a pledge of its own, offering inventors a prize of $100m (£80m) to develop new carbon removal technologies.

The DOE said that by midcentury, carbon removal will need to be deployed at the gigaton scale, meaning it would need to be able to sequester the equivalent of emissions from approximately 250 million vehicles driven in one year.

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