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Investing in Carbon Removal: Demystifying Existing Approaches

Urgent investments in carbon dioxide removal offer big returns for climate, jobs and post-COVID-19 recovery

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | September 21, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – According to a new research synthesis developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and sponsored by ClimateWorks Foundation, investments are urgently needed to rapidly develop and scale up the carbon dioxide removal (CDR) solutions critical to reaching net zero emissions globally by 2050. The findings were released in a new online hub, “Investing in Carbon Removal: Demystifying Existing Approaches” available at

With support from the ClimateWorks Foundation and World Resources Institute (WRI), the EIU hub assesses seven proposed carbon dioxide (CO2) removal approaches: afforestation and reforestation, agricultural soil management, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, carbon mineralisation, direct air capture, mass timber, and peatland rewetting.

“In this climate crisis, slashing emissions alone won’t be enough. We need to clean up our mess. Carbon removal is a necessary part of the equation,” said Jan Mazurek, Director of the Carbon Dioxide Removal Program at ClimateWorks Foundation. “The recent commitments by Microsoft, Shopify, Stripe and others to invest in or pay for the carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere is a great first step, but far from enough. By investing in carbon dioxide removal now, we not only avert the worst impacts of climate change, but we also unlock new economic opportunities leading to countless new jobs and a sustainable recovery.”

The EIU research outlines each method’s potential to remove and lock away CO₂, commercial potential and challenges and opportunities to scale up these solutions, and the potential social and environmental risk associated with each. The hub also includes the most up-to-date information on the policies, public and private financing and projects, and future outlook associated with each CDR approach.

In particular, the research synthesis highlights that both public and private investment is needed now across a diverse portfolio of carbon dioxide removal approaches to scale up at the necessary pace to meet global climate goals. Such investments offer a major climate opportunity while also resulting in significant employment opportunities, driving demand for key materials and industries and jumpstarting new economic activity as policymakers and business leaders develop plans for a post-COVID-19 recovery. For example, the synthesis cites recent studies that estimated a single megaton-scale direct air capture plant can generate roughly 3,500 jobs across sectors in the U.S. (Rhodium Group) and mass timber is expected to account for $1.4 billion USD of the global construction industry by 2025, with the potential to reach trillions by 2050 (Nature).

“The first imperative for combatting climate change is to dramatically curb emissions. However, the latest climate science shows us that these efforts alone aren’t enough to prevent exceedingly dangerous levels of warming,” said Jen Wilcox, Senior Fellow at World Resources Institute and Presidential Distinguished Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “To tackle the climate crisis, we must both reduce emissions and permanently remove the carbon that is already in the atmosphere. It is critical that policymakers and private investors start making investments now to quickly bring carbon removal solutions to scale thoughtfully to minimize any environmental or social risks.”

The EIU CDR assessment is available here:


About ClimateWorks Foundation

ClimateWorks is a global platform for philanthropy to innovate and accelerate climate solutions that scale. We deliver global programs and services that equip philanthropy with the knowledge, networks and solutions to drive climate progress. Since 2008, ClimateWorks has granted over $1 billion to more than 500 grantees in over 40 countries. More information can be found at

About The Economist Intelligence Unit

The Economist Intelligence Unit is the research arm of The Economist Group, publisher of The Economist. As the world’s leading provider of country intelligence, The Economist Intelligence Unit helps governments, institutions and businesses by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis of economic and development strategies. Through our public policy practice, we provide evidence-based research for policymakers and stakeholders seeking measurable outcomes in fields ranging from technology and finance to energy and health. We conduct research through interviews, regulatory analysis, quantitative modelling and forecasting, and display the results via interactive data visualisation tools. More information can be found at

 About World Resources Institute

World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research organization that spans more than 60 countries, with offices in Africa, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States. Its more than 1,000 experts and staff work closely with leaders to turn big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. WRI U.S.’s Carbon Removal program explores the challenges and opportunities to leveraging carbon removal strategies to help tackle climate change. More information on WRI can be found at or on Twitter @WRIClimate.

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Published September 21, 2020

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