One of the most important technologies to address climate change got a boost Thursday when a startup said it pulled carbon dioxide from the open air and stored it underground. The company has cashed in on the effort, potentially creating a viable business model that could kick-start a new industry.
Read: Carbon capture, nuclear and hydrogen feature in most net-zero emissions plans and need greater investment
Climeworks AG is a leader in the race to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, using a process known as direct-air capture. Customers, including Microsoft Corp.
paid a significant premium to buy carbon credits generated by Climeworks, allowing them to effectively offset their own emissions.
Climeworks and others have long promised that using vacuum-like devices to pull in air, filter it and bury carbon underground can help mitigate environmental damage caused by human activities. This is the first time a company has actually done it at a meaningful scale using a third-party verified process.
“We hope we are growing from a teenager to a grown-up in this industry,” Christoph Gebald, co-chief executive of Climeworks, said in an interview.
Microsoft, e-commerce company Shopify Inc.
and payments firm Stripe Inc. have prepaid or agreed to pay hundreds of dollars for credits, each of which represents one metric ton of carbon removed. Other carbon credits tied to projects such as keeping trees standing have often been criticized because the projects often don’t reduce emissions as much as promised.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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