By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More than 20 companies in the burgeoning carbon removal industry on Thursday launched a coalition that will lobby the U.S. government for new policies to help commercialize the nascent technology, which has received a flood of private investment in recent years.
The CRA will represent companies developing technologies to remove carbon emissions, buyers of credits from carbon removal projects and groups supporting the development of the field, creating a unified industry voice in policy discussions with lawmakers and government officials.
For years, technologies such as direct air capture, which extracts carbon emissions from the ambient air, had been seen as fringe ideas. But after the passage of the federal infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act, investors have been pouring millions into the emerging field.
Under those bills, the U.S. government has committed to spend more than $580 billion to support the development of carbon dioxide removal technologies through grants, technical support and tax credits for start-up companies and investors.
“Together, we will work to realize the potential of the trillion-dollar carbon removal industry catalyzing innovation, creating high-quality jobs, driving economic development, and ensuring we achieve our climate goals,” the CRA said in a statement.
No large-scale direct air-capture projects are operational in the United States, though some projects are underway. The two main types of carbon dioxide removal involve chemical processes like direct air capture or enhance existing natural processes that remove carbon from the atmosphere such as planting trees.
As of 2021, carbon removal companies only permanently stored fewer than 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide, “orders of magnitude below the billions of tons” needed to be removed and stored to keep the world on track to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels – the level scientists say can stave off severe climate disruptions.
Giana Amador, founder of carbon removal NGO Carbon 180, will head up the CRA. Member companies include DAC start-ups Sustaera, Climeworks and Heirloom.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Leslie Adler)