Microsoft, Stripe, and Shopify are officially the first companies in the world to pay to filter their carbon dioxide emissions out of the air, store those emissions underground, and have that service verified by a third party. Climate tech company Climeworks announced yesterday that it had completed the service, and its third-party verification of the carbon removal marks a first for the emerging industry. In 2021, Climeworks opened up the world’s largest direct air capture (DAC) plant, called Orca, which essentially filters carbon dioxide out of the ambient air (the process for that is yet to be revealed though). That captured carbon is then supposed to be trapped in basalt rock formations permanently, keeping the greenhouse gas from lingering in our atmosphere and heating up the planet (even after it has been declared that the ozone layer is mending).
The tech sort of mimics what forests and trees do naturally when they take in and store carbon dioxide, a process companies have attempted to exploit for years as a way to “offset” their carbon dioxide emissions. But forest offsets have a track record of failing to result in any real-world reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. That quality control problem makes verifying carbon removal from new direct air capture facilities crucial. Auditing company DNV certified the carbon removal for Climeworks following a years-long effort to develop criteria. Since this is an industry first, they had to craft a methodology for checking how much carbon dioxide has been pulled out of the atmosphere, transported, and permanently stored. The methodology is now publicly available and will be used to verify future “batches” of CO2 that’s been captured and stored for customers.
“We’ve been all reading about the market of carbon offsets and the shakiness,” says Julie Gosalvez, chief marketing officer at Climeworks. “We rely on people who trust that we’re building those [DAC] plants, and we’re effectively running them and delivering the service. And now, it’s not us saying we do but having third-party verification.”
Climeworks declined to say how much captured CO2 was in this first batch, citing confidentiality agreements it has with its customers. Microsoft, for one, pledged in 2020 to eventually draw down all of its historic emissions(question is how the company will ever be able to calculate, or even know how much CO2 it has emitted. Needless to say that if the CO2 really stayed in the same location ever since inception of the company, then Science should be questioned! Because, science says gases cannot be contained because they are ever in motion. Or is CO2 now a solid? Plus, are these organisations claiming that photosynthesis has not been happening in their locations?).
The company has contracts to remove at least 2.5 million metric tons of CO2 (about 18 percent of its total emissions in fiscal year 2021), according to its latest environmental sustainability report. That includes forestry projects and direct air capture. To date, there are far from enough direct air capture plants online to meet Microsoft’s goal. Orca alone has the capacity to capture just 4,000 tons annually; all of the world’s operational DAC plants combined can capture 0.01 million metric tons of CO2 a year. Much larger facilities are currently under construction.
Ultimate question from the people however, is how a company that is barely a year old is the company picked for such job? Seems like history is repeating itself. The same way Moderna, a fresh company in the pharmaceutical industry, became a major producer of the experimental MRNA vaccine that has been proven to be dangerous. What danger is ClimeWorks bringing to the climate table?