Why Is Everyone Talking About Carbon Capture?

Feb 05 2021

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A radical technology that could transform our planet. Here’s how. 

Carbon: one of the leading factors in climate change. Today, there’s more carbon in our atmosphere and oceans than ever before, and it’s increasing all the time, a key contributor to global warming. On the face of things, this poses a critical problem when it comes to the future of our planet, but what if we could instead see this as an exciting challenge, possibly the greatest challenge facing mankind? Better yet, what if we could find an answer? 

At XPRIZE, we believe that answer is carbon capture technology. But what exactly is it? Since last night, when Elon Musk tweeted about carbon capture tech, this question has been buzzing across the internet. “Is it trees?” commented author and Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Chris Wylie, under Musk’s Tweet.

Trees make a significant contribution to converting CO2 into oxygen, sure, and planting more trees is always a good thing. But trees alone cannot keep up with the amount of carbon we’re producing. We need trees, but we also need a big, new, radical piece of innovation. 

“Carbon capture is a way to fight climate change. It's a way to prevent our CO2 emissions from getting out into the atmosphere and into the oceans,” explains Marcius Extavour, Executive Director, Prize Operations, Energy and Resources. “A really cool aspect of this is carbon removal, which specifically means taking existing emissions that are already up there in the air, or already dissolved in the oceans and trying to physically take them out that will help bring our earth system back into balance.” 

The job of carbon removal does not have to be limited to the natural world – to trees, agriculture, or wetlands – Extavour explains. Leading scientists and engineers are already designing and building systems that tackle this grand challenge. The next step, for maximum impact, is to scale and to technologically advance this work even further, to create a system so powerful it can halt the effects of climate change. 

At XPRIZE, we not only think this is possible but believe it is totally necessary. On his first day in office, President Joe Biden restored America to the Paris Climate Change Agreement. If America wants to meet that agreement, carbon capture is how to do it. 

Watch Marcius Extavour explain more about the power of carbon capture: