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“We're mainly looking to synthesise fuels” for markets such as California with high carbon prices, said Geoffrey Holmes, business development manager at Carbon Engineering.
But he added that “the Paris Agreement helps” with longer-term options of sucking large amounts from the air.
Jan Wurzbacher, director and founder of Climeworks, says the company has planet-altering ambitions by cutting costs to about 0 a tonne and capturing one percent of global man-made carbon emissions a year by 2025.
“Since the Paris Agreement, the business substantially changed,” he said, with a shift in investor and shareholder interest away from industrial uses of carbon to curbing climate change.
Scientists are sucking carbon dioxide from the air with giant fans and preparing to release chemicals from a balloon to dim the sun's rays as part of a climate engineering push to cool the planet.
Backers say the risky, often expensive projects are urgently needed to find ways of meeting the goals of the Paris climate deal to curb global warming that researchers blame for causing more heatwaves, downpours and rising sea levels.
The United Nations says the targets are way off track and will not be met simply by reducing emissions for example from factories or cars - particularly after US President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the 2015 pact.
They are pushing for other ways to keep temperatures down.
And Climeworks sells the gas, at a loss, to nearby greenhouses as a fertiliser to grow tomatoes and cucumbers and has a partnership with carmaker Audi, which hopes to use carbon in greener fuels.“We're in trouble,” said Janos Pasztor, head of the new Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Project.“The question is not whether or not there will be an overshoot but by how many degrees and for how many decades.” Faced with hard choices, many experts say that extracting carbon from the atmosphere is among the less risky options.Among new university research, a Harvard geo-engineering project into dimming sunlight to cool the planet set up in 2016 has raised .5 million from private donors.It plans a first outdoor experiment in 2018 above Arizona.