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  • Writer's pictureTom Mast

Carbon Capture

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

Tom Mast, founder Solve American Gridlock

Adapted from: Carbon capture is incredibly expensive – and makes a difference only at the edges, ETFirst, by Kevin Trenberth, a Distinguished Scholar, NCAR and affiliated faculty member at the University of Auckland, and first published by The Conversation – “How not to solve the climate change problem”.

Trenberth says that politicians when speaking of reaching “net zero emissions” usually mean employing trees or capturing carbon dioxide, but fail to mention the costs. The new “Inflation Reduction Act” (IRA) invests heavily in carbon capture technology. #climatechange #CO2

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has gone from around 320 parts per million (ppm) in 1960 to about 420 now, increasing by 2.5 ppm/year since 2010.

Using trees, the cost to remove 1 ppm is estimated to be $390 billion; the planted trees aren’t permanent, and there are limits to the extent to which this approach can be used since land is needed for food and other human purposes.

Using direct air carbon capture, the costs now range from U.S. $250-600 per metric ton of CO2. Assuming a reduction in these costs down to $100 per metric ton, the cost of reducing atmospheric concentrations by 1 ppm is around $780 billion. It should be noted that these processes themselves use a lot of energy; also, the massive amounts of CO2 have to be transported to the storage location, and the CO2 must not be harmful to the earth or seas and be leak proof for centuries to be of any practicality.

Trenberth summarizes with “This arithmetic highlights the tremendous need to cut emissions. There is no viable workaround.”


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