Ocean carbon dioxide removal: The need and the opportunity
This report provides a detailed overview of several promising ocean-based approaches that may be able to achieve carbon removal at a multi-gigaton scale.
The ocean cannot be ignored given its role as one of Earth’s biggest carbon sinks. Through the slow cycling of carbon through earth, air, and water, much of our carbon emissions are ultimately destined to be stored in the ocean. However, natural processes of the carbon cycle are far too slow to lessen, let alone reverse, our climate change trajectory over the next decades. Accelerating the rate by which the ocean can safely take up and store CO2 will help achieve climate goals, if at the same time emissions are ceased.
Use of the ocean for carbon dioxide removal (CDR) has several advantages:
- The ocean has a virtually unlimited potential for CO2 storage
- Ocean CDR does not compete for space with other land uses
- Ocean CDR targets and accelerates natural sequestration processes
- Some approaches mitigate ocean acidification locally
ClimateWorks Ocean Carbon Dioxide Removal Program aims to support the development of an ocean CDR portfolio by supporting the scientific rigor that is required to vet each promising approach; build a community of actors to accelerate the solution-oriented discourse across scientists, entrepreneurs and policy-makers; and steer the attention of decision makers to the ocean as a potential contributor to carbon dioxide removal.
Authors: Antonius Gagern and Lydia Kapsenberg, CEA Consulting.