Figure 1:All pathways to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming require carbon removal solutions (IPCC, 2018)

Why Carbon Removal?

Why should you company care about removing carbon from the atmosphere?

Jesper Backer Lemming

In a Nutshell - the CO2 bathtub

Picture a bathtub where the water in the tub is CO2 already emitted into the atmosphere by us humans. We need to turn off the water tap that pores CO2 into the atmosphere to stop the water from running over the edge and stop global warming. At the same time to avoid to high water levels, we need to pull the plug and remove the water in the tub. This is where carbon removal comes into this metaphore.   

The big picture

The main solution to stabilize global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, is to reduce global emissions. The limited remaining global carbon budget (the bath tub capacity) and lack of historic reductions (turning off the tap) of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) to stabilize global warming, amplify the importance of solutions that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere[1].

The IPCC defines Carbon removal as “anthropogenic activities that remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store it durably in geological, terrestrial, or ocean reservoirs, or in products[3]. The IPCC is clear, we will only reach our climate goals and stop global warming with high-quality carbon removal[2]. The latest published synthesis report of the IPCC presents that the estimated amount of carbon removal needed ranges from 5 Gt CO2 to 16 Gt CO2 per year by 2050[4]

The EU, Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and the GHG Protocol are all increasingly encouraging businesses to take part in the carbon removal market. The benchmark is that every entity should reduce its emissions by about 90%. To be able to claim status as "Net Zero", the last +/- 10% should be solved by carbon removal.

My business

Most companies have started on their journey to reach zero emissions by 2050. Think for yourself, some of your company’s emissions seem likely to be reduced by technology development or decarbonizing the power grid.

In the same way, some emissions seem hard to abate even in the long term like intercontinental flights. This is where carbon removal comes in. Your company needs access to high-quality carbon removal today and in the future so you in a responsible manner can compensate for hard-to-bate emissions.   

Carbon removal is a part of the solution, and needs to be massively scaled by 2050 to reach the levels vi need worldwide. There are several arguments for your business to take part in this. Here are a few:

Position yourself as a front-runner

Carbon Removal needs a market to scale, and we must start now. The leading monitor of the carbon removal market has created a calculator tool to help your business find the right levels.

Make real impact

Removing carbon is a way of taking responsibility. 1-1=0 (emissions - removals = net zero) is the calculation for carbon removal. Carbon credits from projects financing others avoided emissions may be important, but will not lead you further than 1-0=1. The responsibility for your own emissions remains.

The sooner the better

There is no reason to wait. Carbon removed next year will contribute to one year extra of global warming. Carbon removed today is no longer in the atmosphere but is locked away permanently.

Which carbon removal solution?

There are several upcoming solutions for removing carbon from the atmosphere on land and in the ocean. A portfolio approach is needed to ramp up carbon removal to climate-relevant measures. The most developed solutions are Biochar carbon removal (BCR) Direct Air Capture (DACCS), and Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). In 2023, 94% of all delivered carbon removal was from Biochar, which leads us to the next article in this series:


[1] Jackson, R. B., Le Quéré, C., Andrew, R. M., Canadell, J. G., Peters, G. P., Roy, J., & Wu, L.(2017). Warning signs for stabilizing global CO2 emissions. In Environmental Research Letters (Vol. 12, Issue 11). Institute of Physics Publishing.
Peters, G. P., & Geden, O. (2017). Catalysing a political shift from low to negative carbon. In Nature Climate Change (Vol. 7, Issue 9, pp. 619–621). Nature Publishing Group.
[2] IPCC. (2022). Annex I: Glossary. In Global Warming of 1.5°C (pp. 541–562). CambridgeUniversity Press.
[3] IPCC. (2018). Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C. Cambridge University Press.
[4] IPCC.(2023). Synthesis Report of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). Cambridge University Press.