Climeworks: Carbon Dioxide Removal through Direct Air Capture

Published 14 Mar 2024
Reference 6872
Region Global
Length 15 page(s)
Language English

With heightened sensitivity to the climate crisis, organizations around the world are pursuing diverse initiatives to mitigate global warming. Climeworks is a pioneer in employing direct air capture (DAC) technology to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store the carbon underground. The company has set an ambitious goal of removing 1 gigaton of CO2 per year by 2050. However, given the nascency of the technology, the carbon markets and the policy landscape, it is too early to tell if that is reachable. What should Climeworks do to achieve the greatest environmental impact?

Teaching objectives

This case is designed to facilitate discussion related to climate action, applying a strategic or entrepreneurial lens to the pursuit of sustainable climate solutions. It highlights the challenges of building viable business models and ventures that deliver significant environmental impact. In examining Climeworks’ direct air capture and storage (DAC+S) approach for carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere, students come to appreciate the need to integrate science, business, and policy perspectives to optimize its environmental impact. The case is a rich source of material for debating the nuances of climate finance and the carbon markets, including the key distinction between funding projects that pursue emissions avoidance/reduction versus those that pursue carbon dioxide removal from the air. Discussion should shed light on the potential for – and limits of – relying on carbon offsets, as well as the need to consider additionality and permanence in evaluating any climate solution. Ultimately, students should realize that nature-based solutions and technological solutions are substitutes, not complements, hence strategies to remove carbon dioxide should not crowd out urgently needed efforts to reduce emissions.

  • Climate action
  • climate science
  • global warming
  • sustainability strategy
  • impact entrepreneurship
  • climate finance
  • carbon offsets
  • environmental impact
  • business model
  • impact strategy
  • social innovation
  • technological innovation
  • carbon dioxide removal
  • direct air capture
  • SDG9 Industry,Innovation and Infrastructure
  • SDG11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG12 Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG13 Climate Action
  • SDG17 Partnerships for the Goals
  • Q12024