Direct air capture (DAC) technologies are capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it permanently. Development of direct air capture technology remains slow and expensive; however, it could become an instrumental method of reducing CO2 levels once the most significant emissions cuts have been achieved. The aim of the Foundation is to promote research into the newest methods and explore their role in ecological reconstruction – without the knock-on effect of stagnation of emissions cuts.
The concentration of carbon dioxide levels is currently on track to be higher than that needed to stay below the global temperature increase threshold of 1.5–2º C. Even with faster emission cuts, CO2 levels may become so high that warming will not remain within safe limits.
The ability of forests and oceans to sequester carbon has a key role to play. However, research shows that climate change is reducing this ability and even turning ecosystems into sources of emissions. Against this setting, the development of carbon capture technologies is a race against the clock.
Given that the deployment of DAC technologies will be slow, preparations for their development and commercialization must begin now. Although DAC has the potential to provide a kind of life insurance for humankind, it is very important to note that emissions cuts must not be obstructed by efforts to develop DAC technologies. Some examples of technologies include using water to store captured carbon in bedrock and storing CO2 into construction materials.
In this focus area, the Foundation will fund research into improving DAC technologies and reducing the energy they consume. Another goal is to advance projects that create opportunities for international cooperation.
From the projects it will cooperate with, the foundation is calling for comprehensive analysis of carbon capture and storage, taking into account the creation of new types of raw material chains that capture carbon within industrial applications.
The foundation avoids projects that introduce incentives to continue harmful emissions. Instead, the foundation intends to promote discussion through which carbon sequestration technology is developed in parallel with swift action to reduce emissions, not as a replacement for all net-zero efforts. The foundation will not support geoengineering projects due to the major uncertainty surrounding their environmental and climate impacts.
General goals of the foundation in this focus area
- To promote DAC technologies and find solutions for their commercialization in the coming years by identifying and solving bottlenecks.
- To accelerate research into the benefits, opportunities and risks of various DAC approaches, particularly when scaled into global solutions.
- To finance the study of the indirect effects, i.e., the potential benefits and risks of these technologies for the reduction of fossil emissions and other environmental issues. To provoke discussion on the role of these technologies in the reduction of climate emissions.
- To promote systemic ideas through which direct carbon capture can be linked to industrial processes and the development of circular material supply chains.