Marine Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR)

Supporting explorations into marine carbon dioxide removal

The ClimateWorks CDR Program aims to support the development of a marine 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.

Why is marine carbon dioxide removal important

Climate change has become the largest threat for marine biodiversity and ecosystem integrity. Despite efforts to reduce emissions and decarbonize the economy, extreme ecosystem effects on oceans are unlikely to be fully averted without carbon dioxide removal (CDR). While a growing community of practitioners is exploring the ocean’s potential role in carbon dioxide removal, marine-based CDR proposals remain largely theoretical and have not been tested in the field. There is hence an increasing urgency to improve our scientific understanding around the impacts associated with these proposals. 

In order to effectively mitigate and pace the symptoms of climate change, a portfolio of CDR approaches has to be scoped, tested and carefully scaled. We need a portfolio of removal methods from the land, from technology and from the sea because they all interact. As we remove carbon from the land using trees or carbon-sucking filters, the oceans may give back to the atmosphere some of the carbon dioxide (CO2) they have been storing. Improving our understanding and facilitating the development of marine carbon removal mechanisms add an important tool in our climate action toolbox.

Philanthropic donors can help the global oceans by supporting the research of benefits, risks, and costs of ocean carbon removal.

The video below provides an overview of potential approaches to accelerate the ocean’s uptake of atmospheric CO2 to counteract climate change.

One of the many CDR approaches we are exploring is managing ocean alkalinity.

As the expression suggests, ocean alkalinity management imitates naturally occurring phenomena—such as erosion of calcium containing rocks from land to sea and dissolution of empty shells that reduce both ocean acidification and atmospheric CO2 levels. Check out the video below to learn more. 

View an additional video to learn about electrochemical pathways to marine-based carbon dioxide removal.