Swiss-Re backed carbon removal market targets gigaton scale-up


A marketplace matching corporates trying to decarbonise with carbon negative materials producers is bidding to remove gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Early clients of the marketplace include insurance giant Swiss Re.

The marketplace works by matching buyers with sellers. The sellers make things like biochar, a type of charcoal designed to hold CO2 and improve soil, or carbon negative building materials, such as blocks and insulation. Only verifiable technologies and products are allowed onto the platform, with verification undertaken by DNV GL.

The buyers invest in these companies – de-risking production ramp up and enabling them to scale – by buying tradable carbon dioxide removal certificates, or CORCs, each of which represents a tonne of CO2 removed.

That means buyers are paying for carbon removal as a service instead of trying to find their own potentially unverified negative emissions sources.

Marianne Tikkanen

Co-founder Marianne Tikkanen says the marketplace has the potential to remove gigatons of CO2 – if it can scale.

“Linear growth will not take us where we need to go. To decarbonise by 2050, we need step change, orders of magnitude.”

While the platform has attracted buyers such as Nordic IT services firm TietoEvry and Sweden’s SEB bank, every marketplace requires numbers on both sides to enable liquidity. There are currently 164 companies involved.

On the supply side, Tikkanen says energy companies in particular have a role to play, and that those burning biomass should consider not just heat and power, but novel forms of trigeneration to enable heat, power and product.

Auctions on the platform to date have attracted average prices of around €20/tonne of CO2 removal, says Tikkanen, significantly higher than the €1/tonne typically charged for offsets.

However, unlike the murky world of offsets, where consultants and administrators can take the lion’s share of the money, Tikkanen says the platform is transparent in terms of cost and that the carbon removal materials are fully verifiable.

“It is very hard to give a false answer if you can take the material to a lab and test how much carbon it holds,” she says. “Buyers can easily do that.”

Tikkanen hopes that has got its timing right, and that the post-Covid world delivers on all the talk of building back better.

“Urbanisation is not going to go away in post-Covid times. The world will not stop building and working, so everything that we cannot reuse we should build from carbon removing materials,” says Tikkanen.

“Engineers and energy companies have proven that they can ‘do the impossible’ by pivoting to renewables. If we take the same focus to carbon removal, why not?”



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