The world needs to cut down on its carbon emissions. These startups show us how.
Over the past few years, global warming has become one of the world’s most important concerns. Not only have countries like China taken deliberate steps to cut down their carbon emissions, but different industries have also stepped up to the challenge of tackling climate change. From climate-friendly non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to clothing rental services, players in every industry are trying to be more sustainable.
As environmental concerns grow, climate technology is emerging as a space for innovation and investment. According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), more than US$60 billion has been invested in climate technology as of the first half of 2021. The rising investment in this space has led to the growth of climate tech startups helping reduce or manage carbon emissions uniquely. Here is a look at how up-and-coming climate technology startups are addressing carbon emissions.
Pulling out carbon from the air
One of the ways in which global carbon emissions are being dealt with today is by burying carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions under the surface of the Earth. This is called carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), and as of 2021, 37 million tons of carbon have been sequestered on a global scale.
One of the startups that have recently joined the CCS space is the U.S.-based Verdox Inc., an electric carbon removal company that has created a technological solution to suck carbon out of any industrial source or even the air itself. The traditional approach of CCS has multiple steps— separating CO2 from other emissions by using liquid solvents, heating the solvent at high temperatures to extract CO2 and then finally compressing and burying it. Verdox’s technology on the other hand simply uses a new variety of plastic that can immediately extract CO2 from a mixture of gases. This not only simplifies the process of CCS but also makes it less expensive than the traditional process.
Turning carbon emissions into minerals
Another technique of carbon emission management is by turning it into a solid form through carbon mineralization. Carbon mineralization is a chemical process in which certain rocks (largely of the igneous and metamorphic variety) when exposed to carbon dioxide turn into carbonate minerals like calcite or magnesite. While carbon mineralization is a naturally occurring process, startups like the U.S.-based 44.01 (named after the molecular weight of carbon) and Travertine Technologies are accelerating the speed at which this process takes place to help deal with carbon emissions.
Other startups, like Blue Planet, are taking a more novel approach to carbon mineralization. The company is using carbon emissions to create synthetic limestone to replace the sand and gravel used in making concrete. This not only helps reduce the carbon footprint of the concrete production industry but also repurposes carbon emissions.
Offsetting carbon footprint
In industries where carbon emissions cannot be reduced, they have to be managed via offsetting. Carbon offset involves reducing or eliminating carbon emissions to balance the pollution created by the activities of an individual or company. Often, companies offset their carbon footprints by investing in environmentally friendly projects.
To help companies across various sectors reduce their environmental burden, some startups have taken on the responsibility of offsetting carbon footprints. This includes the Indian startup Lowsoot, which has created a platform to calculate carbon footprints and find the right projects to offset them and the UK-based Sylvera which allows users to observe the performance of climate offset projects. Others like the Singapore-based Carbon Grid Protocol have gone a step further and moved the carbon offsetting process onto the blockchain, providing the same functionality as the other two startups we mentioned but with an additional layer of transparency.
CO2 accounts for 76% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, and as of 2020, over 34 billion tons of CO2 are emitted each year. These statistics highlight the importance of climate tech startups, like the ones we have mentioned above, in facilitating life as we know it. Change cannot be brought about by one company alone, naturally, these startups need funding to be able to hit the ground running.
Fortunately, investors have also begun understanding the sense of urgency surrounding climate risks and have been heavily supporting climate tech businesses. By 2025, climate technologies are set to attract anywhere between US$1.5 trillion to US$2 trillion in investment each year. Hopefully, this encourages more entrepreneurs to innovate and develop bigger and better solutions to combat global carbon emissions.
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