By the end of the decade, man-made technology that actively removes CO2 from the atmosphere will account for 56%, the report states. That number currently stands at 7%, with 93% based on “avoidance credits,” those focused on rewarding for not polluting.
And while interest is growing, most technologies have not reached commercial scale yet. 89% of the sold credits in the past year are for future offsetting, the report says.
Companies like Meta, Alphabet, McKinsey & Company, Shopify and Stripe have already pledged to purchase $935 million of man-made carbon removal credits.
According to the BeZero Carbon report, tech-based carbon offsets are currently much more expensive than nature-based ones. Capturing a tonne of carbon costs from $320 to $2,050 at the present moment, the report states.
As tech scales up, the price will decrease, but that will require both private and public support. One high-potential solution for cost reduction is the regular auction scheme that is similar to the contracts for difference in the UK.
In order for technology to scale up to a net-zero world by 2050, the report outlines the importance of collaboration in bringing the cost of one tonne of DAC offsetting to $100 million by 2030.
As much as 10 billion tonnes of carbon removal capacity are needed by 2050 in order for net zero to be achieved through “netting” rather than emissions reduction. The present cost for that would be $8.5 trillion annually.
The estimate for the total capacity of all CCS and CCU sites in 2020 is 38.5 million tonnes.
According to the report, decreasing costs cannot happen through a race-to-the-bottom approach where tech solutions that don’t deliver the climate improvements they promised continue to be supported.
Better accreditation methodologies that are coordinated globally need to be developed fast to achieve effectiveness in emissions removal. The report also says that credits should be delivered after the removals take place and not before, as it currently happens in most cases.
“As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has set out, there is a 50% chance we do not hit our climate targets even with enormous amounts of carbon removal,” said BeZero head of carbon removal Ted Christie-Millier. “There is no time to waste. We need to drastically reduce the price of carbon removal over the next decade. The public sector cannot do this alone. We need to harness the power of the market to bring costs down and allow these new and emerging technologies to scale up.”
The report is being supported by MP Chris Skidmore, the Conservative MP for Kingswood and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Environment.
Some MPs in the UK, such as conservative Chris Skidmore, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Environment, support the report. Others, such as the MPs on the Environmental Committee said Ministers need to do more to make sure that high emitters use footprint-reducing technologies that actually work.