Aerial view of a field being harvested by two agricultural machines, displaying a clear division between the unharvested green crops and the harvested section, highlighting an essential process in sustainable farming practices that contribute to carbon removal.

A global carbon removal industry is coming – experts explain the problems it must overcome

Each of its carbon-sucking units is the size of a shipping container, yet the world’s largest direct air capture machine – the Orca plant in Iceland – only captures and stores about 4,000 tonnes of CO₂ a year. That’s about three seconds’ worth of global emissions.

Still, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that technologies that remove CO₂ from the air like this will be needed alongside deep cuts in emissions to reduce global warming. In fact, climate scientists modelling pathways for stabilising warming at 1.5°C (the goal of the Paris agreement) assume that a carbon removal industry based around one method may need to be around 40% the size of the current fossil fuel industry.


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