Airbus and a partnership of more than a dozen airlines are working together to fund a new carbon capture project.
Their hope is that Carbon Engineering’s direct carbon capture technology can provide secure, verifiable carbon removal credits as part of aviation’s need to offset part of its future emissions.
The partnership includes Air Canada, Air France-KLM, easyJet, International Airlines Group (the parent of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling), LATAM Airlines Group, Lufthansa Group (including Swiss, Austrian, Brussels and the Eurowings brands) and Virgin Atlantic.
The agreement is at this point an early stage partnership, based on letters of intent, and the airlines have “committed to engage in negotiations on the possible pre-purchase of verified and durable carbon removal credits starting in 2025 through to 2028”.
The group’s partner is Carbon Engineering who have pioneered a direct air carbon capture and storage that can cancel out enterprise-level carbon emissions at scale.
At a basic level, their facilities utilize high-powered fans to suck air in, process it, then compress it into liquid and store it in underground geologic reservoirs.
The agreement is intended to cover a pre-purchase total of some 400,000 metric tons of removal credits. Airbus partner 1PointFive, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum’s Low Carbon Ventures business, will issue the carbon credits as early as 2025.
“The letter of intent we are signing with Airbus today embodies the collaborative approach the aviation industry has initiated to find effective solutions that meet the challenge of our environmental transition,” said Air France-KLM vice president for sustainability Fatima da Gloria de Sousa. “Only together can we address the climate emergency.”
“On a small scale, it’s the technology that’s been proven,” said Stan Shparberg, head of marketing at Airbus. “We now basically need to scale it up.”
Some of the more extreme climate researchers and predictors suggest the only way to avoid several trillion in damages from climate related disasters is to actively remove carbon from the atmosphere; that merely slowing down the emitting process is no longer sufficient.
Along with storing carbon underground, Carbon Engineering can use as much carbon as it likes to make carbon-based products like fuels. Other companies have proven concepts of removing carbon from the air and turning it into vodka, or even fragrances.
Some estimates puts the aviation industry’s primarily-CO2 footprint of global emissions at just under 1 billion metric tons, or around 2.4% of all human activities.
The advantage of carbon capture though is that the emissions can be offset from any activity anywhere and from any point in history.
Several companies are already working on these large direct air carbon capture and storage facilities, with one in Iceland already operational that takes the emissions of 870 cars and turns them into calcium carbonate minerals amongst metamorphic rock deep underground.