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Ryan

New Member
#1
In a recently published article, Brian Petersen, Diana Stuart, and I (Ryan Gunderson) argue the following: geoengineering is a risky response to a systemic contradiction between capital accumulation and climate stability; the structural drive to accumulate capital shapes justifications for the possible deployment of geoengineering; and technological rationality is a constitutive element of the case for geoengineering, a form of reason that aids in the reproduction of the social order (as opposed to locating alternative social futures).

The paper is available for free here. A Critical Examination of Geoengineering: Economic and Technological Rationality in Social Context

Someone shared the article on a geoengineering listserve with members ranging from geoengineering scientists to critics. After seeing the paper on the listserve, Daniel Kirk-Davidoff, Assistant Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science at the University of Maryland, emailed us with clarifying questions. He is also a friend and colleague of David Keith, a prominent proponent of research on, and likely future deployment of, a controversial form of solar radiation management called stratospheric aerosol injection (the strategy that is the focus of the paper linked above).

Dan’s questions led to a fruitful dialogue that was then forwarded to and extended in the geoengineering listserve. David Klein thought the conversation - which gets at climate politics, the responsibility of science, the sociology of technology, the nature of capitalism, fossil fuel interests in geoengineering, the intentions of geoengineering scientists, and more - may be of interest to SCNCC. The core of the discussion is pasted below, with minor edits to delete formalities, etc. The conversation, which may be ongoing, is available in full here. I ask that you forgive poor grammar, typos, and our sarcastic slights.


Conversation below:

-------------------------------------------------



Dan Kirk-Davidoff (hereafter Kirk-Davidoff):

I enjoyed reading your recent article, "A Critical Examination of Geoengineering: Economic and Technological Rationality in Social Context". But I had a couple of questions about it. First, I'm wondering what you think the definition of Capitalism ought to be. I spent a little time in Hungary, Romania and East Germany before and just after the fall of their nominally Communist governments, and it seems pretty clear that a world where all governments were organized along those lines would have eventually reached high levels of atmospheric CO2. It also seems hard to believe that those governments would have found it any easier to reduce the rate of material wealth accumulation for the sake of ecological health than our own. So do we need a different word than Capitalism to describe the tendency of human civilizations to prioritize growth over stability?

Second, do you think you were fair to David Keith? Full disclosure: he's a friend and colleague. You quote him as saying the geoengineering would be "cheap and easy", but you don't address his actual moral arguments. For example on page 139 of A Case for Climate Engineering, he points out that geoengineering and carbon emissions reductions "are not interchangeable alternatives." Past emissions are already causing harms to present and future generations. I'm working as hard as I can to help renewable energy replace fossil-fuel electrical generation (I forecast renewable generation for grid operators), but however hard we all work, at best we might get to much lower global levels of carbon emissions in 30 or more years. If pumping aerosols into the stratosphere would cause more good than harm for poor farmers (by counteracting the carbon dioxide that industrial civilization has dumped into their atmosphere for the past 150 years), David's saying we have a moral obligation to do that, while we also do everything we can to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Why is that wrong? Let's say we win the political argument next year, and in a beautiful revolution, lead the world to rapidly reorganize around meaningful work, sustainable agriculture, housing and transportation, open borders and mutual cultural respect. On that great day, wouldn't we still want to protect subsistence farmers in Bangladesh from the sea level rise and heat stress that CO2 we've already put into the air will cause? If repurposing some military aircraft to put non-ozone depleting aerosols into the stratosphere would accomplish that, why would Marcusian analysis argue against that? Shouldn't we ask the Bangladeshi farmers? If they wanted that step taken, would it because they were confused about appearance and essence?


Ryan Gunderson (hereafter Gunderson):

1) About capitalism and the alternatives: I'm sure you know that there was and is a lot of discussion about what kind of political-economic thing the Soviet system was, whether it was "state capitalist," a "degenerated worker's state," "communism," etc. One thing that is certain is that that model was ecologically unsustainable too. But very few people want to bring that model back. Any growth-dependent economy is likely unsustainable. The reason we emphasize capitalism as the underlying issue that needs addressing is that most of the world is under the dictates of capital and capitalism is growth-dependent for systemic reasons. If you're interested in this argument, one of the best analyses to date is still Schnaiberg's 1980 "The Environment: From Surplus to Scarcity." Some of the degrowth thinkers are pretty good about making this case as well (e.g., Radical dematerialization and degrowth).

2) About being unfair to Keith: It goes without saying that we didn't intend for our analysis to be a personal attack on Keith. As of the content of his arguments and how they're treated in our paper, two points are relevant.

First, this quote may address most of your concern:
"To be clear, our argument is not that economic and technological justifications for geoengineering are the only justifications, though, as shown in the literature above, economic and technological justifications are dominant modes of legitimation in the geoengineering agenda. We focus on economic and technological legitimations of geoengineering because we think these will register as the most valid and relevant justifications in policy-making and appeal to (a historically contingent) “commonsense”. We make the case that the prominence, validity, and relevance of these arguments can only be understood in a particular and contradictory social context."

Like the other arguments we critique, we focus on Keith's economic and technological justifications.

Second, we do acknowledge that Keith is very aware of the risks and is sometimes uneasy in his support.

3) Regarding the question about asking Bangladeshis about GE: My opinion is absolutely, there should be a much more democratic system of global climate governance, with GE likely being one proposal at some point. This is a good entry point to speak to your comment about "appearance" and "essence," terms that I assume you're reasonably skeptical of due to their metaphysical haziness. You're framing this choice as one between geoengineering or not geoengineering. Are those the only options? What else is possible and more substantively rational ("essential")? I can think of a handful economic policies and social programs that would be proposed in a more democratic governance of climate politics. But this also means a willingness to ask Bangladeshis, in this example, all related alternative pathways in terms of mitigation and adaptation, not just "intervention." In this example, this would include relocation to regions that are historically heavy polluters (i.e., that put them in their precarious situation in the first place) as well as having a say in the emissions targets of the first world. If your response is "This isn't politically feasible," it is helpful to figure out why, exactly, this is not politically feasible. That opens up what we think are some of the most important questions, many of which direct attention to undesirable power structures. And many of which are ignored in the geoengineering debate.


Kirk-Davidoff:

I appreciate what I take to be your central point, that a false economy that values some people's suffering much less heavily that others undergirds a lot our discussions of all kinds of policy and especially climate policy. But what if the impulse towards geoengineering comes not from an unconscious restriction of the range of thought to that consistent with a capitalist worldview, but rather from a despairing acknowledgement that the unjust arrangements of power have already prevented us from taking the steps that a just society would have take 30 or 40 years ago that would have kept us from reaching the current dilemma? I don't think that many of us in the climate science community are unaware of the role that capital has played in constraining real action to reduce carbon emissions.

What if the objection to geoengineering comes from a perspective of wealth and entitlement that says any solution less than perfection, any solution that might expose pale-skinned northern rich people to a slight additional risk of skin cancer, can't be considered, even if it would relieve the suffering of millions of poor people caused by those pale skinned northerners? So not only will we refuse to substantially reduce our carbon emissions at anything like the necessary speed, but we won't even do the barest cheapest bit to stave off sealevel rise that will inundate Bangladesh?


Gunderson:

Again, I would actively support democratizing global climate governance. And I don’t doubt that my perspective is influenced by my social position. It’s an empirical question concerning what pathways and options would be chosen if power in decision-making was extended to the global public. An empirical question I hope I can see the answer to someday. My guess is mitigation, and I doubt we’d select the potentially catastrophic option.

Critics of GE are not asking for a "perfect" solution. We're asking for more mitigation efforts. (I’m sure you want more mitigation too, but you’re also likely aware of the moral hazard argument against GE.) Mitigation would require social changes. Drawing attention to these alternatives and attempting to locate pathways to these alternatives are some of the goals of our research.

Another goal of our research is to explain why current structures carry on despite contradictions and the massive amounts of harm they cause. I think it is logical to make the case that GE will catch on precisely because it will act as a way to literally mask the problem and allow the system to reproduce itself. For example, which of the following cases for GE do you think will have a real influence on those who will have the power to launch an SRM project?:

1) This is a cheap and easy technology that allows us to keep making money and pumping GHGs.

2) Let’s help the poor Bangladeshi farmers.

You know the answer and Marcuse can help clarify why that’s the obvious answer - and asks us to figure out why it doesn’t have to be that way.

Would you send me the articles in which geoengineering advocates incorporate a theory of how capitalism operates and explicitly denounces the role of capital in squandering mitigation efforts? Of course I'm being a bit sarcastic and mean here, but I have never seen a take like this (though I’m happy to be wrong here). Again, our piece is an attempt to thrust this issue in the discussion.

One agreement we have is that GE may be the best system-maintenance strategy modern society can deliver. If that's the case, I think the conclusion of our paper still holds.


Kirk-Davidoff:

I'm not a supporter of implementing solar radiation management. What I'm trying to accomplish in this dialog is to do my little bit to make the conversation about geoengineering as productive as possible. I heard about your paper from a geoengineering email list that I skim but to which I rarely contribute. It was received derisively, I think because many of the folks on the list who are geonengineering proponents view themselves as part of a fight against the fossil fuel industry's role in our economy, and saw your paper as a jargon-filled attack on the brave few willing to look at the world with clear eyes, etc. etc.

At this point geoengineering is a fringe science activity. If you wanted to slow it down, convincing a few of the small numbers of people involved to drop it, or somehow make it substantially more benign could have a big impact. So I'm suggest you think hard about that audience when you write. That audience is probably more interested in SRM because they think it will help poor people than because they think it will allow unrestrained capital growth

The industrial world does spend a few billion dollars every year "helping" poor farmers in various ways. What if argument 2) is actually the stronger rhetorical argument for SRM than 1)? Argument 1) is laughable- there are a whole lot of good substantive reasons about which you're well aware why a plan to emit CO2 indefinitely while continuously ramping up SRM would be a very dumb plan, even for the west (interruption risk, ocean acidification, precipitation changes that might be harmful to rich countries, etc.). But 2) (if it's true that SRM, on balance, and in isolation would help poor farmers) could be compelling, and its cost would be consistent with other "aid" efforts of the industrial world. And it would have the "side" benefit of making global warming less damaging to the rich world, at least temporarily (leading to moral hazard). So I think that understanding the appeal of geoengineering to its backers via argument 2) is very important, and understanding the truth of the underlying claim (that SRM would help poor farmers) is also very important.

The moral hazard argument is very important to David Keith, at least, and he's thought a lot about it. But I think understanding the social dynamics around that is really tough and potentially really interesting. SRM would have real aesthetic downsides (hazy skies) that people with food in their bellies would notice. Maybe if it were implemented it would act as a visible sign of the cost of carbon pollution that would make people in rich countries more, rather than less interested in rapid emissions reductions. I know that's speculative, but how much actual evidence do we have about how moral hazard works in this realm?


Gunderson

Regarding the intentions of GE advocates and GE as a fringe science: I’m surprised by your comment that most GE advocates identify as enemies of the fossil fuel industry. I’m surprised for two reasons. First, this is not a common theme in the case for GE. The research on framing is fairly consistent: economics and techno frames are core, though I understand that there are moral cases too. I wouldn’t be surprised if the frame you’re pushing catches on: GE-is-a tool-for-climate-justice-and-opposition-to-it-is-a-reflection-of-privilege. Biotech pushes the same narrative. The second reason I’m surprised is it seems that the fossil fuel industry is supportive of GE, given that they fund many GE supporters (Hamilton 2013).

One thing worth considering is that the concrete intentions of GE scientists are relatively unimportant. But this requires a distinction between subjective intentions and meaning-making, on the one hand, and unintended outcomes and social structure on the other. For example, in the unlikely case that every current GE scientist that reads our paper were convinced that GE is a tool for the reproduction of capitalism and detrimental to mitigation (though from your review of the listserv's reception, this seems very unlikely), I bet other bodies and minds will fill their roles for reasons argued in the paper. It may be a fringe science now but it will only grow along with GDP and the burning of fossil fuels. At the risk of sounding deterministic, I think SRM is almost fated if capitalism lumbers on, regardless of, or even in spite of, the intentions of GE scientists. To give a seemingly unrelated example. When I teach a class my intention is to foster critical thinking skills, to pass on facts about society and the environment, to get kids to look at the world in new ways, etc. But perhaps what I’m actually doing, despite these intentions, is creating the next generation of worker-consumers that are punished if they don’t show up on time and follow directions.

Regarding jargon and style/polemics: I’m genuinely sorry to hear that the paper was cast off as jargony. We strive to make critical theory as clear as possible. It’s a difficult tradition to digest, but that's the nature of nearly all German philosophy and sociology. The distinction between essence and appearance is older than Plato, it just takes a slightly different form since Hegel. Marcuse is firmly rooted in the Western tradition and committed to the goals of the Enlightenment. The “this is silly pomo crap so I’m [not] going to read further” doesn’t fit. Historically, scientists have read philosophy closely. If Einstein could regularly quote Spinoza and Schopenhauer, I think GE scientists can take some time to think through new concepts and arguments (technology embodies values, these values are restricted by social structure, etc.). All GE advocates have an implicit theory of technology even if they never justify it and it is taken to be commonsense. Feenberg’s Questioning Technology is highly recommended for engaging in the very long conversation about what technology is, exactly.

I admit it is a polemical paper and am saddened if it was not read closely due to the tone. However, I don’t mind if this just means it ruffled feathers. I would be delighted if political economy became a central concern of the GE debate.

Regarding aid to the poor: Although this is an aside, it’s worth noting that aid given to poor countries, and the reasons capital interacts with poor countries at all, may be different than official narratives or our commonsense. If interested, check out world-systems research and dependency theory. This is also a good example of why we should distinguish between subjective intention and structure, and what is possible and what is.


Kirk-Davidoff:

Thanks again for a really good discussion. I think determinism is a low-moral-risk venture, because we have so little skill predicting technological progress (to say nothing of political developments). For example, I know a lot of very smart people who were convinced that concentrating solar power was the wave of the future, because the materials were so basic and cheap, while PV was complicated and tech-heavy. And a lot of folks who thought hydrogen would beat batteries because of better energy density. It's not looking that way at present!

I agree about the tenuous connection between intentions and results. I'd like to think that science has something meaningful to offer towards the goal of helping our actions bring about their intended effect and trust that that's the way you are viewing your own research: the goal is to help us all be more careful and correct in aligning our actions with our subjective morality.

My comments about jargon may have been unfair to the commentors; I was somewhat reading between the lines.

With your permission, I will forward the discussion to the group (and directly to David), and cc you all. .

One more thing to consider:

Decarbonization will warm some regions initially, because of reduced tropspheric aerosol pollution. If you could cancel *that* warming by judicious addition of smaller amounts of aerosol to the stratosphere, wouldn't that be a goal with lower moral hazard?

Climate Impacts From a Removal of Anthropogenic Aerosol Emissions


[Conversation forwarded to geoengineering listserve]


Douglas MacMartin (hereafter MacMartin):

Sorry, couldn’t leave this alone… I do find this sentence interesting:

“The second reason I’m surprised is it seems that the fossil fuel industry is supportive of GE, given that they fund many GE supporters (Hamilton 2013).”

The only connection I’m aware of between the fossil fuel industry and GE is that Lee Lane showed up at a geoengineering meeting in 2006. Has anyone actually had their research funded by the fossil fuel industry? Is there any support for that assertion?

I’m also not sure what a “GE supporter” looks like, or whether I’ve ever met one (or indeed, whether such people exist in the scientific community). I really do wish people would distinguish between “supports doing research so we can understand it” and “supports deploying it”.


Kirk-Davidoff:

The Hamilton reference points to Haroon Kheshgi at Exxon-Mobil as an enthusiast of ocean liming as far back as 1995 and has having put out a report on stratospheric aerosol SRM.


Clive Hamilton (hereafter Hamilton):

There's a bit more:

Royal Dutch Shell was funding an ocean liming study

Steve Koonin of BP chaired an expert meeting at Novim

And if course there was the infamous statement by Exxon's Rex Tillerson that climate change is an engineering problem with 'engineering solutions'.

See pp 77-8 pf Earthmasters.

I haven't followed things closely for a couple of years, but I am not aware of anything more.


Leon Di Marco (hereafter Di Marco):

I realise that this is a rather controversial topic and have posted about this paper before

FYI - both Shell and Exxon gave talks at the new NAS committee on CDR workshop held last October in Irvine CA. While CDR cannot strictly be defined as geoengineering it does show that they (as oil majors) have caught up with the necessity to control the emissions coming from their products using technical means and this will have political consequences.

As for David Keith, he is currently described on the Carbon Engineering site as -

Carbon Engineering: Team and Board

"David Keith Board Member, Acting Chief Scientist"

The CE home page says-

“Air To Fuels is our technology that uses atmospheric CO₂, captured using our DAC process, and combines it with renewably produced hydrogen, to directly synthesize clean liquid transportation fuels.

"Air to fuels uses renewable electricity to produce hydrogen from water, and then combines the hydrogen with captured atmospheric CO₂ to produce hydrocarbon fuels such as diesel, gasoline, and Jet-A. Air to fuels gives us a way to produce global scale quantities of fuels that are compatible with today’s transportation infrastructure and engines, but add little or no fossil carbon emissions to the atmosphere.”

This description fails to disclose that their DAC process involves using large amounts of fossil fuel energy (as high temperature heat from burning natural gas) - it might reasonably be surmised from the above that the process is fully "renewable". Further, CE has been promoting the use of their air captured CO2 for enhanced oil recovery, on the rather dubious basis that it will lower the carbon footprint of that oil.

David Keith holds professorships in engineering and in public policy at Harvard University-

“David Keith, Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, the Keith Group is a fast-growing team of researchers working at the intersection of climate science and technology with a focus on the science and public policy of solar geoengineering”
Thus he is in a rather special position with regard to the purposes to which his scientific endeavour is devoted and as such has to be seen not to be crossing a line where his financial interest influences his judgement. The further he gets with the potential application of SRM and its consequences the more closely his connections will be examined.


David Hawkins:

David Keith does not need me to defend his bona fides but let me make a few comments. I have known David for more than 15 years; long before he began his direct air capture work.

While I don’t always agree with David’s contentions, I can say with no hesitation that he is a scrupulously honest person who applies his considerable intelligence to examine all sides of complex issues.

As an environmental advocate who hopes we never are desperate enough to deploy SRM, I will say that David is a person of genuine integrity.

We have enough substantive issues to address with various forms of geo-engineering to spend time casting aspersions on good people who are willing to speak out on controversial topics.


Di Marco:

For completeness, here is the Harvard Keith Group Funding page-
Funding
“Funding

Work in David Keith’s group is funded by a variety of public and philanthropic sources. Over the decade funding has come from the US NSF, Canada’s NSERC, a series of gifts from Bill Gates via the Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research (FICER), Harvard start-up funds, and three Harvard grants: The Star Family Challenge for Scientific Research, The Weatherhead Initiative Research Cluster in International Affairs, and The Harvard Climate Solutions Fund.

“We strongly oppose commercial work on solar geoengineering. The narrow engineering costs are so cheap that, if anything, one problem might be it is too cheap. In any case, we do not need private competition to make it cheaper. We do need transparency about risks and performance that are best provided in an academic, open, and public setting.

“From October 2009 to November 2013 David was president of Carbon Engineering and currently serves as its Executive Chairman. Carbon Engineering is a private company developing technology for direct capture of CO2 from the atmosphere with a focus on making carbon-neutral transportation fuels. Because of concerns about conflict of interest David now does little academic work on direct air capture. While often referred to as "geoengineering", air capture is distinct and very different from solar geoengineering. The Keith Group's aim is to work solely on the latter, so there is no direct conflict of interest. It is an open research question under which circumstances even talk of solar geoengineering could lead to an increased or decreased willingness to mitigate carbon. The two clearly are no substitutes. We must decrease CO2 emissions to zero regardless of what happens on the solar geoengineering front.”


Michael MacCracken:

On the Fossil Fuel companies and geoengineering, Brian Flannery was lead author for an article on geoengineering based on a workshop held back in early 1990s. The chapter is in a book that was edited by Robert G. Watts titled

“Engineering Response to Global Climate Change: Planning a Research and Development Agenda 1st Edition”

I looked it up on Amazon.com and it is Chapter 8 ( I note that they misspelled my name, oh well).


Jesse L,. Reynolds:

That “infamous statement by Exxon's Rex Tillerson” was about adaptation, not geoengineering: “And as human beings as a — as a — as a species, that’s why we’re all still here. We have spent our entire existence adapting, OK? So we will adapt to this. Changes to weather patterns that move crop production areas around -- we’ll adapt to that. It’s an engineering problem and it has engineering solutions.”
Rex Tillerson’s view of climate change: It’s just an ‘engineering problem’
To my knowledge, Tillerson has never said a single word about geoengineering.

The other purported connections – including those in the 2014 Hamilton essay that Ryan posted – are generally old, tenuous, and with CDR.

Anyone familiar with the geoengineering discourse could make a list of who have moved it substantially forward. Off the top of my head, I’d suggest Paul Crutzen, the US National Academies, the Royal Society, Mike MacCracken, David Keith, Ken Caldeira – each of whom has emphasized the primacy of mitigation. Shell, Steve Koonin, Lee Lane, and Newt Gingrich are bit players in this story, at best.

In my opinion, claims that (solar) geoengineering is a project of the right are examples of people choosing limited evidence in order to reach a conclusion upon which they have already decided. I suspect that some of them know better.


Gunderson:

I assume and hope that the majority GE scientists also support mitigation. Certainly the most prominent do.

Regarding the comment about GE as a "project of the right": As I mentioned in one of the emails with Dan, the concrete intentions (and I'd include political priorities here) of GE scientists may be relatively unimportant. What is more consequential, in my opinion, is what happens to GE in social, political, and economic context. And why GE will likely pick up steam due to this context. Our paper tries to highlight these social conditions as well as the types of justifications that appeal to powerful interests. If the fossil fuel industry, climate change denialists like the Heartland Institute, and the GOP embrace GE, for example, it's worth asking why this is the case. (This does not mean that only the right supports GE research or deployment, or that something is "bad" just because the right supports it. The right here is just meant to signify a group that best represents captial's interest in $ > burn fossil fuels > $$ > burn fossil fuels > $$$.) I assume that the majority of GE scientists would argue that GE without mitigation is a problematic way forward (ocean acidification etc.). Despite this, one should still try to understand the large appeal GE has to those who have a vested interest in burning fossil fuels to accumulate capital. To me, the issue is "structural" - our paper is not an attempt to blame GE scientists for the prospects of deployment.

MacMartin:

Thanks for all of this. I agree (and I think everyone is aware of the concern) that there is the potential for vested fossil fuel interests to seize on SRM as an excuse to avoid regulation – we saw that in Lamar Smith’s comments before the hearing last year (I don’t recall that he actually stayed to listen to the hearing, since all 4 of us repeated the fact that you can’t do that anyway, but I doubt that would have mattered).
There were certainly a few connections people mentioned that I was unaware of (Shell funding some CDR) or had forgotten about (like Steve Koonin, my former provost, who had some passing interest and also had a brief stint at BP). But all incredibly minor contributors to the subject. I was simply reacting, as is Jesse, to the assertion in the email thread that they “fund many GE supporters” in the present tense. Indeed, I think it is far more striking observation that the precise opposite is true – that at least as far as SRM is concerned, within a rounding error 100% of the interest, and even without a rounding error 100% of the research funding comes from people committed to mitigation. Indeed, given that history, that might give some of us more hope for the future interests as well.

As a minor point, Jesse already pointed out that Tillerson’s comment wasn’t about GE, but I’d also point out that you can’t use the fact that Ken and Bala used to work at Livermore as some mysterious connection to vested interests; Livermore has a great climate group that has been instrumental in CMIP and hence in IPCC, so by that argument you’d also have to assert that fossil fuel interests support climate science.
 
#2
Thanks for this Ryan and David, truly a fascinating look into that tense realm where the political meets the scientific. What struck me hardest was Dan's assertion that "at best we might get to much lower levels of carbon emissions in 30 or more years." Exactly the kind of self-fulfilling prophesy that has brought us to this crisis moment. It is the lack of agency implicit in such a statement that is stunning to me.
 
#3
Entrepreneurs are already finding investment opportunities...

DK

Climeworks establishes new market mechanism

Climeworks establishes new market mechanism to help achieve climate goals
By Joanna Sampson15 February 2018

Swiss firm Climeworks has signed several historic contracts for its new Carbon Dioxide Removal solution, marking the first time a company is commissioned to permanently remove the carbon dioxide (CO2) of its customers from the atmosphere.

During last year’s international climate talks in Bonn, Climeworks announced the creation of a new market mechanism using Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology to help achieve the world’s climate goals. Customers can now reverse the effect of unavoidable emissions and achieve carbon neutrality through Climeworks removing an equivalent amount of CO2 emissions from the atmosphere and storing them underground via the CarbFix process in Iceland.

The first customers to sign up for the Carbon Dioxide Removal solution are Robert Charles Swan and his son Barney (below), who recently completed the South Pole Energy Challenge - the first polar expedition using only renewable energies. The pair skied 965km using a NASA designed ice melter, passive solar vacuum flasks, and advanced biofuels for survival. The expedition signed up with Climeworks to reverse emissions stemming from flights and associated logistics to make the expedition net positive.



Source: Climeworks

The second customer is ClimateWorks Foundation, an NGO that works globally to strengthen the philanthropic sector’s response to climate change.

Programme manager Jess Lam said, “Investing in diversified portfolios of clean energy technologies today will create new markets and opportunities that accelerate decarbonisation and help the world meet its climate goals.”

ClimateWorks signed up to the Climeworks solution to reverse the impact of so-called Scope Two and Three emissions, which according to carbon accounting standards, are the indirect emissions created by services and products purchased by an organisation, including office electricity use, business travel, and employee commuting.

Founded by engineers Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher, Climeworks’ technology involves scalable DAC plants that capture atmospheric CO2 with a filter, using mainly low-grade heat as an energy source.

Last May, Climeworks made history by opening the world’s first commercial DAC plant in Hinwil, Switzerland which supplies captured CO2 to a nearby greenhouse to help grow vegetables.

Last October the company also announced its participation in the CarbFix project in Iceland, where its DAC technology is capturing CO2 to be mineralised and permanently stored underground.

Climeworks Co-Founder and Co-CEO Jan Wurzbacher said, “Unlike compensation schemes, where emissions are offset through the trade of pollution rights, the Climeworks solution involves the direct removal of the same amount of emissions from the atmosphere as the customer is creating. Climeworks offers a metered and permanent approach to Carbon Dioxide Removal.”

Christoph Gebald, Climeworks Co-founder and Co-CEO Christoph Gebald, added, “Once the test phase of our pilot project in Iceland is complete, our goal is for larger amounts of CO2 to be removed from the atmosphere and made available for purchase by individuals, organisations and companies. In order to achieve climate goals we need several Carbon Dioxide Removal schemes working together on a gigaton scale. Consider investing 5% of your offset efforts in DAC in order to grow this industry and create a strong Carbon Dioxide Removal portfolio.”
 
#4
I imagine the real estate developers in Miami are breathing a huge sigh of relief. In the film version I see Bruce Willis as the entrepreneur/ engineer arriving just in the nick of time to save the planet (and donating some of his profit to Oxfam).
 
#5
Here's a Guardian article that summarizes a report on geoengineering from the European Academies' Science Advisory Council. The report makes it clear that geoengineering cannot save us.

Excerpt:

“You can rule out a silver bullet,” said Prof John Shepherd, at the University of Southampton, UK, and an author of the report. “Negative emissions technologies are very interesting but they are not an alternative to deep and rapid emissions reductions. These remain the safest and most reliable option that we have.”

DK

‘Silver bullet’ to suck CO2 from air and halt climate change ruled out

‘Silver bullet’ to suck CO2 from air and halt climate change ruled out
Scientists say climate targets cannot be met using the technologies, which either risk huge damage to the environment or are very costly
 
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