How Big Is The Carbon Removal Market?

Kevin Niparko, head of product at Segment, has analyzed a (albeit imperfect) dataset of CO2 removal purchases, that gives us a better idea of the scale of the carbon removal market right now. You can read his article here.

He organized the workflow around measuring the market of carbon dioxide removal by structured annual and quarterly plans showing the objectives and key results (OKRs) that can help guide companies through their net zero targets.

How much carbon do we need to remove?

The result of the analysis is a dashboard that shows the global progress towards the completion of the carbon removal market goal. That goal, as based on the 2017 UNEP report, is to remove 10 gigatons of CO2 per year by 2050. 

To calculate the numbers showing the progress towards achieving it, he used a dataset of publicly announced purchases of durable (100+ years) carbon removal with storage. 

Sample of fields from the Durable CDR dataset

The dataset was assembled by Robert Höglund – a climate advisor at Marginal Carbon. It includes seller, buyer, method, how much CO2 was purchased and even discloses some of the sums buyers paid for the carbon dioxide removal (CDR). Kevin considers this dataset to be an excellent starting point to measure the progress towards achieving 10 gigatons per year of carbon removal.

Results so far

The results show that buyers have purchased 69,349 tons of durable CDR so far. A substantial 48% of that 69k has been delivered, and the other 52% are purchases for future delivery. Unfortunately, the progress made so far is not that impressive – we have completed just 0.0000074% of our goal.

The results also reveal that the average cost that buyers purchased for a ton of CO2 removal is $332 and the total CDR Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) is around $20 – 30 million. However, many of these carbon removal methods are proof-of-concept, so they don’t represent the true cost of a scaled solution.

Some of the key takeaways from the article are that in order to achieve our climate goals, we need to set clear and measurable objectives. We also need to share the data and report on the progress.

Relevant: New Carbon Capture Technology Can Remove 1 Gigaton Of CO2 By 2035 For $50 A Ton

He also shares that the CDR data today is largely self-reported and unstructured, which limits the visibility into progress. Therefore, there is an opportunity for innovative organizations to create data and reporting standards that can increase visibility of the progress. 

The world having accomplished just 0.000074% of its goal to remove 10 gigatons per year by 2050 shows the market is still in its infancy and we have a long way to go until we get to where we need to be. According to him, exciting progress and healthy competition among buyers and sellers are going to help lead to a cooler climate.

Relevant: Microsoft Shares Lessons Learned From Purchasing Carbon Dioxide Removal

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