Energy & Environment

Energy Department launches $3.5 billion carbon removal program

The Biden administration announced on Thursday that it was launching a program that would put $3.5 billion toward the removal of carbon from Earth’s atmosphere. 

The project in question, the Regional Direct Air Capture Hubs program, is funded under the bipartisan infrastructure law and will involve the construction of four regional hubs for carbon dioxide removal. 

CO2 removal involves sucking carbon dioxide from the surrounding air and either storing it underground or using it for products that do not release it back into the air. It is a separate process from carbon capture, which aims to prevent the initial release of emissions outright.  

“The UN’s latest climate report made clear that removing legacy carbon pollution from the air through direct air capture and safely storing it is an essential weapon in our fight against the climate crisis,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.

“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is funding new technologies that will not only make our carbon-free future a reality but will help position the U.S. as a net-zero leader while creating good-paying jobs for a transitioning clean energy workforce.” 

The announcement comes as the administration has set an ambitious goal of reducing U.S. carbon emissions by half by 2030. The Energy Department projects that carbon dioxide removal (CDR) will need to remove CO2 by the gigaton, or about the equivalent of the yearly emissions of 250 million vehicles. 

In its 2021 assessment, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that while outright reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is necessary to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, a scenario in which warming is kept to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century also assumes use of CDR. 

“CDR is a key element in scenarios that likely limit warming to 2°C or 1.5°C by 2100,” the report states. “Strategies need to reflect that CDR methods differ in terms of removal process, timescale of carbon storage, technological maturity, mitigation potential, cost, co-benefits, adverse side-effects, and governance requirements.” 

Tags Biden carbon emmissions Carbon Neutral Jennifer Granholm

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