Climate removal is all the rage among governments and venture capitalists seeking to use technology to cut their net carbon footprint.
But critics fear this high-tech approach is a dangerous distraction from the critical need to cut carbon dioxide emissions at the front end instead of absolving their energy consumption later. Placing such emphasis on a technology that isn’t yet fully developed, they say, can siphon money, time and resources from a measure we need to ramp up, anyway.
Climate news site Heatmap delved into this issue by featuring Climeworks, a Swiss carbon removal company that not only seeks to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but advocates for carbon offsetting transparency, urging governments and companies not to substitute carbon removal for mitigation.
“What we really need to do is reduce emissions rapidly and significantly.”
— Derik Broekhoff
And carbon removal isn’t the only approach upheld by companies claiming to strive toward climate neutrality. Some carbon credit registries, where companies buy “offsets” intended to compensate for their emissions, have been criticized for investing in projects that do not actually prevent or cut emissions, such as forestry protection efforts that would have occurred with or without the intervention of carbon credit schemes.
SEI Senior Scientist Derik Broekhoff weighed in, noting that these carbon credits with dubious benefits have reinforced the rush toward carbon removal.
“It’s led to this kind of perverse outcome where everyone’s chasing removals,” he told Heatmap. “Yet if you look at a global level, what we really need to do is reduce emissions rapidly and significantly. So it ends up being a bit of a distraction.”