Oct 15, 2021 · 4 min read

3 Leaders in Carbon Removal on the Race To Solve the Climate Crisis

ClimateWorks, Actuate and Carbon180 representatives explain advancing technologies that remove carbon dioxide to help achieve net zero emissions goals.

Three headshots compiled together of two women and one man, all smiling.
(From left to right) Jan Mazurek, Arati Prabhakar and Noah Deich are each committed to addressing the climate change crisis by helping advance technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the Earth's atmosphere. (Photos courtesy of Jan Mazurek, Arati Prabhakar and Noah Deich)

Climate change is one of the most urgent global challenges we face. Since 1880, the Earth’s temperature has risen by 2 degrees Fahrenheit. With no intervention, global temperatures are predicted to rise at least another 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. The results of rising temperatures have been devastating — acting as a catalyst for heatwaves, floods, wildfires and other natural disasters. Even more troubling, our warming climate disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous, and low-income communities, who experience higher levels of exposure to dangerous chemicals, poorer air quality and water quality — among other climate-related challenges.

Despite the scale of the issue, there is hope and a solution. We need to stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere by 2050 and remove emissions we’ve already generated to avoid a worsening climate crisis and better protect our communities now and in the future. If this happens, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests global warming will likely halt. Taking action on climate change will also benefit our health and provide new economic opportunities.

With all this in mind, we are supporting the effort to reach net zero emissions by 2050 through new funding. This includes supporting organizations that use equitable and just approaches to advance a broad range of technologies and solutions that pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in a stable form or use it in products like concrete, which can help reduce emissions in hard-to-decarbonize industries — a process known as carbon dioxide removal. Carbon removal, alongside reducing existing sources of emissions as quickly as possible, is one pivotal way we can reduce harm from climate change. According to the IPCC, most pathways for limiting global warming rely on carbon removal, yet this area of emissions reduction work attracted only 1% of climate philanthropy over the past five years.

There are a number of approaches to carbon removal — from direct air capture, which pulls carbon dioxide directly out of the atmosphere, to mineralization, which aims to store more carbon dioxide in rocks by accelerating natural processes that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turn it into minerals. As we explore initial support for carbon removal, we are also laser-focused on investing in the infrastructure to ensure environmental equity advocates and frontline communities influence the creation and scaling of these efforts.

Learn more about some of the organizations we are excited to join forces with and their work to fight climate change in partnership with communities most impacted.

Jan Mazurek – ClimateWorks Foundation

A headshot of a woman next to a quote that reads: The science is clear. The world is suffering from a climate crisis that is projected to become much worse if we continue to emit greenhouse gas pollution. — Jan Mazurek

Jan Mazurek is the senior director of the ClimateWorks Foundation’s Carbon Dioxide Removal Program, which aims to grow natural, technical and ocean-based methods that directly remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The program works in tandem with ClimateWorks’ mitigation efforts to support grassroots environmental and climate justice advocates. The program is focused on scaling equitable carbon dioxide removal solutions. Our investments will help support ClimateWorks’ research, reporting, grantmaking and technological advancements in carbon dioxide removal.

Arati Prabhakar – Actuate

A photo of a smiling woman next to a quote that reads: “We need new and much faster pathways to massive scale for new climate technologies. That will only happen if companies, researchers, policy makers, investors, and communities can come together to experiment with fresh approaches.” — Arati Prabhakar

Actuate — led by Arati Prabhakar, former head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — is building a portfolio of breakthrough systems innovations to accelerate mass emissions reductions. Their model involves conducting experimental programs to overcome multiple technology and institutional barriers to achieve faster emissions reductions. We will support their work to develop programs that mobilize companies, universities, nonprofits, and communities to create tools, techniques, and evidence for a powerful new approach to addressing the climate crisis.

Noah Deich – Carbon180

A photo of a smiling man next to a quote that reads: Working to create a habitable, prosperous, and equitable future will require the holistic deployment of a range of climate solutions. —Noah Deich

Noah Deich is the president and co-founder of Carbon180, an organization that develops and advocates for policies that will help carbon removal solutions scale in a way that meets climate goals and advances equity and environmental protection in the communities where these solutions are deployed. In addition to furthering operations and research, our funding will support Carbon180’s work to fund and collaborate with environmental justice advocates to co-create and pass policies that invest in and protect frontline communities and ensure carbon removal is implemented widely, safely and fairly.

While we recognize we are new to this journey, we are no less excited to learn from the teams at ClimateWorks, Carbon180, Actuate, and others who are deeply engaged in this work. To learn more about our new commitments to advance carbon dioxide removal, view our related newsroom post.

A Day in the Life of a Biological Oceanographer: Débora Iglesias-Rodriguez
Revolutionizing Climate Technology: 4 Innovative Approaches You Should Know About