Carbon removal is the process of drawing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere so that it can be locked or sequestered into plants, soils, rocks, oceans and the built environment.

Carbon removal and sequestration happens all the time. Plants draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and use it to grow their leaves, branches, trunks and roots. Over time, some of that carbon ends up deep in the soil for a very long time.

Oceans and rocks also draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and can lock away for hundreds to millions of years.

Carbon removal can be encouraged. Planting more trees or expanding areas of forests, grasslands or wildlands, for example, allows more plants to grow, draw down greater amounts of carbon dioxide, and store that carbon. Similarly, removal and sequestration can be enhanced through sustainable agricultural practices, such as zero- or low-till farming or through the use of agricultural biochar.

Finally, it is also possible to use new technologies to capture carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere – or from industrial emissions – and pump it deep underground as liquid carbon dioxide.

Climeworks OCRA Plant in Iceland. Source: