The Earthshot Prize: Fix our climate
From carbon-negative concrete to carbon-storing rocks, discover The Earthshot Prize finalists tackling the climate crisis
The 2030s are the decade to embrace ingenuity if we are to avert disaster and keep alive our hopes of meeting the targets set by the Paris Agreement. Put simply, our carbon emissions need to halve this decade if we are to stay within our global carbon budget – the total amount of carbon dioxide that humans can emit if we are to hit our climate targets. And increasingly, experts are highlighting the need not just for solutions that reduce emissions but also those that actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, with the IPCC highlighting that these technologies will play a vital role.
Three of the 2022 finalists of The Earthshot Prize are blazing the trail for technologies that lock away atmospheric carbon.
STORING CARBON DIOXIDE IN ROCKS
Oceans and forests can only absorb around half of the half of the atmospheric CO2 that needs to be removed if we are to limit warming to just two degrees Celsius. As for the rest, we must avoid using fossil fuels or remove CO2 through techniques like Direct Air Capture and Storage. But if we turn to Direct Air Capture, we must store the captured carbon in a way that is safe and, above all, permanent. For carbon storage startup 44.01, the solution is a rock called peridotite. Read more
MAKING CONCRETE BLOCKS CARBON ZERO
Concrete is the second most-used material on earth – only water is used by humanity more. Why does this matter? The cement industry that produces concrete is responsible for eight per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions. UK-based startup Low Carbon Materials is making concrete blocks net carbon neutral by adding a carbon-negative lightweight aggregate. Read more
TRANSFORMING CO2 INTO EVERYDAY PRODUCTS
The word ‘fermentation’ conjures bucolic images of wine grapes or hops. But carbon dioxide from industry can also be fermented, as can other forms of agricultural, industrial, and municipal waste. And US-based LanzaTech is leveraging the magic of fermentation to create ‘a circular economy where carbon can be infinitely reused’. Read more
Written by: Matthew Hempstead
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28th November 2022