New Report: US Should Be Paying $100B Per Year For Carbon Removal

New Report: US Should Be Paying $100B Per Year For Carbon Removal - Carbon Herald

According to a new report by the Rhodium Group, the US government needs to be spending $100 billion annually on carbon removal. 

While headlines announce new carbon capture and removal projects every other week, the US government’s current investment of just under $1 billion annually falls far short of what’s needed. 

The report titled ‘The Landscape of Carbon Dioxide Removal and US Policies to Scale Solutions’ estimates a staggering $100 billion per year by 2050 is necessary for carbon dioxide removal (CDR) to become a viable weapon against climate change.

“The current level of policy support is nowhere near what’s needed for CDR,” says Jonathan Larsen, a report author. Their aim is to jolt policymakers into action and reset the conversation around CDR’s role in achieving net-zero.

Carbon Removal Is Key To Reaching Net Zero

Without significant CDR, reaching net zero by 2050, both nationally and globally, becomes an impossible dream.

Unlike sectors like transportation or buildings, where solutions and scale are somewhat predictable (we know how many cars and buildings exist), carbon removal remains a moving target. 

Currently, we remove roughly 5 million metric tons, mostly through nature-based solutions like tree planting. 

Even with current policies, Rhodium estimates this could rise to 50 million metric tons by 2035. 

However, the exact amount of CDR needed depends heavily on our success in decarbonizing everything else. Electrifying all cars, for instance, is a goal, but success is uncertain.

The Rhodium Group report attempts to narrow this uncertainty by analyzing various decarbonization roadmaps, it concludes that a minimum of 1 gigaton (1 billion metric tons) of carbon removal is needed by 2050 to compensate for residual emissions. 

This represents a 20-fold increase from current policies and roughly 20% of US emissions in 2023. 

While the figure is an estimate, its importance lies in providing direction and allows policymakers to assess how new policies contribute to achieving the crucial 1 gigaton milestone.

Bridging The Gap Between Existing And Needed Funding

The investment required is equally daunting. Through a back-of-the-envelope calculation, the authors arrive at $100 billion annually by 2050 – a figure that hinges on removing a minimum of one billion tons and the Department of Energy‘s goal of a $100-per-ton removal cost.

The report delves into bridging the gap between today’s $1 billion and the $100 billion target. 

Relevant: How The $468.7B Spending Package Affects Carbon Removal?

The key, it argues, lies in recognizing CDR as a public service. Unlike solutions like wind turbines, where private markets drive demand and innovation, CDR requires a different approach. 

The report proposes expanding and extending existing federal programs – boosting R&D funding, increasing government procurement, offering loan guarantees, and establishing hubs focused on technologies like enhanced weathering or biomass burial. 

Additionally, extending tax credit applicability and deadlines for capturing and storing carbon is recommended, alongside expanding the program to encompass a wider range of removal methods.

Relevant: US DOE To Invest $100M In Advanced Carbon Removal Projects

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