The $900 billion coronavirus relief package, now signed into law, is providing critical support to families nationwide, and it will fund renewable energy measures, regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and most importantly, address “the magnitude of excess carbon dioxide” that already exists in our atmosphere. This excess carbon, known as “legacy CO2,” must be drawn down and permanently stored in order to stabilize the climate.
Rick Parnell, President and CEO of the Foundation for Climate Restoration, and Dr. Sanjeev Khagram, the Director-General and Dean of Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University – both co-founders of the Global Carbon Removal Task Force – are elated by this bold bipartisan commitment to dramatically scale the removal of legacy CO2, a critical third pillar of climate transformation alongside mitigation and adaptation. The fact that Democrats and Republicans came together to support these initiatives demonstrates the growing recognition that carbon dioxide removal is an essential component of our national climate strategy.
Present-day emissions represent only 5% of the carbon dioxide driving climate change. The other 95% comes from the trillion tons of excess carbon in our atmosphere that has accumulated since the Industrial Revolution. We must safely and permanently remove this excess carbon if we are to restore the climate to a livable state. This legislation brings us one step closer to restoring the climate for future generations.
“This bill includes many important measures that will assist carbon dioxide removal, as well as many other aspects of the clean energy transition,” said Steve Oldham, CEO, Carbon Engineering. “We look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers in the coming year to further enhance the market for clean energy and carbon removal.”
The legislation includes $35 billion in clean energy spending and requires the U.S. to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a greenhouse gas hundreds of times more potent than carbon dioxide. Alongside the direct spending commitments are a reauthorization and extension of tax credits for wind and solar energy. The most exciting – and most promising – element in the legislation is the commitment of $6 billion to restorative technologies, such as direct carbon capture and storage. This funding will accelerate the development of solutions designed to remove legacy carbon and return us to safe, pre-industrial levels, ensuring a habitable planet for future generations.