Mars is irrelevant in the fight against CO2 – Let’s sequester CO2 from the atmosphere

We need solutions to capture CO2 from the atmosphere - and companies need to use them.

To reach the 1.5 degree target and capture CO2 from the atmosphere, we need clean energy and clean technologies. Ideas on how to do this are plentiful and range from biological solutions to technical ones. Most of the offers that companies can already use to offset their emissions lie in reforestation or new technologies to capture the gas from the air.

We have polluted the earth’s atmosphere with CO₂ greenhouse gases. And we’re noticing it quite clearly. NASA Science reveals that current global warming is faster than it has been in 10,000 years. The last four decades have been hotter than any decade since 1850, with human-generated carbon dioxide increasing about 250 times faster than that from natural sources after the last ice age.

Scientists also observe that the Earth is currently spinning faster than it has in the last half century, which also means that our days are minimally always slightly shorter than we are used to.

To reach the 1.5 degree target (or even a more manageable 2 degree target), we need clean energy and clean technologies. Just the last few years, a lot has happened in this environment, but still too little compared to our target.

We’re likely to overshoot the 1.5 temperature target, and after that we’re likely to try to remove carbon back out of the atmosphere to cool our planet again. That will be part of the coping work in the coming century. There are some biological as well as technical ideas on how this could work:

Binding CO2 from the Atmosphere
Binding CO2 from the atmosphere – Source: Britta Daffner

What do these CO2 technologies mean for companies?

These solutions are also becoming increasingly relevant for companies. After all, they produce CO₂ in almost all areas, from the logistics of products and employee mobility to office space. For companies, a sustainable orientation is about greater efficiency, enhancing the corporate image, employee satisfaction, and also greater opportunities for recruiting young employees. Companies need a clear strategy for their climate protection and climate neutrality. This includes avoiding and reducing CO₂ emissions – and offsetting the remaining emissions through climate protection projects.

Microsoft, for example, has set itself the goal of removing all CO₂ emissions from the atmosphere that it has emitted since its founding in 1975. To this end, the Group concluded numerous agreements two years ago to remove 1.3 million metric tons of CO₂ – for example, by reforesting forests in Peru, Nicaragua and India, improving soil quality in the USA and Australia, and also through new technologies such as the direct capture of carbon dioxide from the air (3A systems).

Granted: The offerings for companies to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere are still limited. The market is still in its infancy. But it’s evolving. In the past few months alone, Google parent Alphabet, Tesla chief Elon Musk and other private venture capitalists have collectively committed more than $2 billion to startups working on tech innovations to combat climate change. Currently, most of the deals on the market are in reforestation or new technologies to capture gas from the air.

There is still a long way to go to make this industry truly great. Even the most ambitious technologies will only be able to store a few million tons per year at most by today’s standards. That’s like trying to empty a lake with a teacup. All the more important, then, that companies not only focus on offsetting, but also avoid and reduce as much CO₂ emissions as possible.

Acutely, for example, some is doing so in the area of building management and certified office buildings. Certainly also driven by the upcoming climate crisis and high costs in winter, more and more companies are measuring and optimizing their energy consumption. In Germany, some companies have already announced many small measures to save energy. For example, via hybrid work models with home office arrangements, space consolidations or reductions in heating and cooling costs. The Vonovia housing group is also relying on its photovoltaic system on the roof of its corporate headquarters to provide much of its own energy, while Commerzbank’s headquarters has installed cooling ceilings that function like inverted heaters to cool the building to just under six degrees below the outside temperature.

As it turns out, the challenges for companies are and will remain great. Over the next few years, companies will not only have to work to become a data-driven enterprise to avoid being lost in the competitive landscape, but they will also have to invest in absolute resource efficiency, carbon-neutral offices, more energy-efficient technologies and offsetting CO₂ emissions. To pull this off, leaders are needed who can think intersectionally and can engage and motivate people in a far-reaching transformation. But that’s another topic for another article.

As the "Head of Data Strategy & Data Culture" at O2 Telefónica, Britta champions data-driven business transformation. She is also the founder of "," a platform dedicated to empowering change-makers in the corporate and business sectors. Before her current role, Britta established an Artificial Intelligence department at IBM, where she spearheaded the implementation of AI programs for various corporations. She is the author of "The Disruption DNA" (2021), a book that motivates individuals to take an active role in digital transformation.

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