Those who believe that climate change, which used to be called global warming, is a problem requiring immediate and often draconian attention, regard carbon dioxide as a dangerous pollutant. Leaving aside the fact that every plant, tree, and food crop needs CO2 to live and grow, one Swiss Company is approaching the greenhouse gas as a resource rather than a source of pollution.

Carbon capture as a solution to climate change

The idea of carbon capture has been around ever since climate change has been considered a crisis. Some concepts involve governments taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and sequestering it, perhaps in deep caves.

Other, commercially oriented operation, would capture carbon dioxide at the source, say at the smokestacks of power plants, and turn it into biofuel and thus generate more energy. The theory is that the more carbon dioxide is taken out of the atmosphere, the less onerous the effects of climate change will be.

What Climeworks intends to do

Climeworks, a Swiss company, has just started a carbon capture facility near Zurich that is taking carbon dioxide directly out of the atmosphere and is turning it into fertilizer. The carbon capture operation is a way to meet goals set by the Paris climate accord and at the same time making it pay. Besides fertilizer, captured CO2 can be made into fuel and carbonated soft drinks.

The company would like to scale up its operation so that it is removing one percent of the carbon dioxide from global emissions per year by 2025.

Can the company do what it has set out to do?

In order to achieve its goal of removing one percent of carbon emissions from the atmosphere from the planet by 2025, Climeworks will have to build 250,000 plants similar to the one that just opened up outside of Zurich.

Moreover, the current cost of $400 a ton of extracting co2 from the atmosphere would have to come down to $100 a ton for the process to pay on an industrial scale.

Will carbon capture work as a way to address climate change?

Leaving aside the question as to whether human-caused climate change is a real thing and whether it is a problem that needs addressing, the question arises as to whether carbon capture is a viable way to solve the problem if there is a problem.

In any case, carbon capture could become a profitable business if the technology can be refined and the process can be scaled up. If the industry eases fears of global warming, valid or not, then so much the better,