Could Fighting Climate Change Be As Easy As Sucking Carbon Out Of The Sky?

The novel solution just received a major boost. YouTube screenshot/Climeworks

News that is entertaining to read

Subscribe for free to get more stories like this directly to your inbox

As the world faces the possibility of an environmental disaster due in large part to the release of carbon and pollutants into the atmosphere, many people and organizations have proposed some seemingly far-fetched ideas for addressing the root problem.

One plan that sounds deceptively simple is now cleared for the next stage of development.

An environmental vacuum cleaner

Climeworks, a company based in Switzerland, has touted its proprietary technology for some time. In the broadest terms, it relies on a process by which carbon dioxide is essentially sucked out of the air and transported to subterranean facilities.

While the company has expressed confidence in its ability to carry out the inventive climate solution, the real test comes from third-party entities. An independent group recently conducted an audit and gave Climeworks the OK to continue moving forward with its plans.

One facility in Iceland already exists

According to Climeworks executive Christoph Beuttler, verification by a third-party auditor will allow for a significant expansion of the company’s existing footprint. For now, just one commercial plant provides this so-called “direct air capture.”

That facility is located in Iceland and relies on contributions from private companies — Shopify, Microsoft, and Stripe — to remove pollutants from the atmosphere as part of a carbon offset program.

Pursuing big plans for the future

Although ongoing programs such as planting new forests can have a significant impact on our ability to capture carbon from the air, Beuttler stressed that Climeworks is interested in an even more sustainable and quantifiable solution.

"We need a standard, because a ton of carbon dioxide removed by Climeworks is not the same as, for example, afforestation,” he said. “Maybe the trees burn or decompose. They may not last 1,000 years or even 100 years, let alone millennia like what we do."

Chris Agee
Chris Agee January 24th, 2023
Share this story: