Feb 13 2021

A safer and cleaner future: we can move towards a circular carbon economy

There was an incredible moment during the early days of the pandemic, when global carbon emissions fell by 17%. Mostly because we were staying inside, and cutting emissions on transportation like driving and flying. Since carbon dioxide is the primary cause of global warming this was one big, hopeful outcome of COVID-19, highlighting our power to slow climate change and giving many of us the opportunity to rethink our own carbon footprints. 

Experts have warned, however, that the overall effect on concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere from this reduction has been very small in the grand scheme of things, and that we need to take much bigger and more sustained measures to not just cut back on our carbon emissions – but to actively remove carbon too. 

Our latest prize, the $100 XPRIZE Carbon Removal, aims to solve this problem, accelerating a technology that can remove carbon from the atmosphere and ocean on a huge scale, potentially reversing some of the damage that carbon dioxide emissions are doing to the climate and ultimately, the environment.

Carbon capture is a similar technology to carbon removal, and offers yet another solution. Rather than taking carbon out of the air, it captures carbon that is released at the source, from flues in fossil fuel driven power plants, for example, and converts it into useful products, from building materials to alcohol. 

By the year 2040, we envisage a world where these carbon technologies are having a big impact in letting us lead cleaner and healthier lives, that safeguard the future of our planet, too. But how do we make this a reality? 

In the animated film below, XPRIZE’s Marcius Extavour explains how carbon technology could work, and how we can move towards a circular carbon economy.