What Are Direct Carbon Capture Offsets and How Do They Work? The Big Picture

What Are Direct Carbon Capture Offsets and How Do They Work? The Big Picture

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Grace Smoot

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Direct carbon capture (DCC) is currently one of the most direct ways to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from our atmosphere. In the scope of carbon offsets, DCC could play a crucial role in reducing atmospheric CO2 levels. So, we had to ask: What are direct carbon capture offsets really, and could they help us mitigate climate change?

Direct carbon capture offsets are a specific type of carbon offset that remove carbon from the atmosphere. Specialized machinery sucks CO2 from the atmosphere and then stores it permanently, e.g., pumped in underground geological formations, with the help of ocean water, or via mineralization. 

Keep reading to find out all about what direct carbon capture offsets are, how they work, what their project life-cycle is, how effective they are, their pros and cons, and how they can help mitigate climate change.

The Big Picture of Direct Carbon Capture Offsets

Carbon offsets play an important role in mitigating the effects of global climate change by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions beyond what we each can achieve through individual actions. Direct carbon capture (DCC) offsets are a specific type of carbon offset that remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it permanently in geological reservoirs.

How are carbon offsets definedReductions in GHG emissions that are used to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere.
What are direct carbon capture offsetsDirect carbon capture offsets are a specific type of carbon offset that focus on the practice of carbon removal, or eliminating carbon from the atmosphere.
How do direct carbon capture projects offset CO2 emissionsDCC projects reduce CO2 emissions via the use of specialized machinery that sucks CO2 from the atmosphere and then stores it permanently, e.g., pumped in underground geological formations, with the help of ocean water, or via mineralization.
When do direct carbon capture projects offset CO2 emissionsDCC offsets reduce CO2 emissions immediately. As soon as the DCC machines begin sucking in air, they also begin reducing atmospheric CO2
What is the project life-cycle of direct carbon capture offsetsBuilding: Siting of a DCC plant requires land, water, access to a renewable energy source, and a place to store the captured carbon.
Operating: DCC works by sucking atmospheric air into specialized machines which remove the CO2 so that it can be stored permanently (e.g., pumped deep underground and stored in geological formations).
End-of-life: DCC technology is relatively new, so data for this stage is not available yet.
How effective are direct carbon capture offsetsDCC offsets have a low rate of carbon re-emission, a low land-usage requirement, and a low life-cycle carbon footprint. They are also permanent and immediate, but they do not reduce your own carbon emissions.
What are the best direct carbon capture offsetsThe best direct carbon capture offsets are offered by Climeworks, Novocarbo, and Heirloom that all capture CO2 from the air and store it permanently. In addition, Captura capture and store CO2 with the help of ocean water and Carbin Minerals via the natural process of weathering and mineralization.

What Are Direct Carbon Capture Offsets

Carbon offsets are reductions in GHG emissions that are used to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere. They are measured in tons of CO2 equivalents and are bought and sold through international brokers, online retailers, and trading platforms.

Direct carbon capture (DCC) offsets are a specific type of carbon offset involving specialized machinery which extracts carbon from the atmosphere. 

How Are Carbon Offsets Defined

Carbon offsets play a crucial role in reducing our carbon footprint, the amount of CO2 emissions associated with an individual or an entity. 

Carbon footprint: the amount of greenhouse gasses and specifically carbon dioxide emitted by something (such as a person’s activities or a product’s manufacture and transport) during a given period

Merriam Webster

Basically, a carbon footprint is the amount of carbon emitted by an activity or an organization. This includes GHG emissions from fuel that we burn directly (e.g., heating a home, driving a car) and GHG emissions from manufacturing the products that we use (e.g., power plants, factories, and landfills). 

One way to reduce our carbon footprint is via the use of carbon offsets. These are reductions in GHG emissions that are measured in tons of CO2 equivalents and are bought and sold through international brokers, online retailers, and trading platforms. 

Carbon offset: a way for a company or person to reduce the level of carbon dioxide for which they are responsible by paying money to a company that works to reduce the total amount produced in the world, for example by planting trees”

Oxford Dictionary

When you hear the words “carbon offset”, think about the term “compensation”. Essentially, carbon offsets are reductions in GHG emissions that are used to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere. Carbon offsets can range anywhere from a couple of hundred tons of CO2 per program per year to thousands of tons of CO2 per program per year. 

How Are Direct Carbon Capture Offsets Defined

Direct carbon capture (DCC) is a type of technological carbon removal, the process of eliminating carbon from the atmosphere using technology. It is also referred to as negative emissions or carbon drawdown.

Carbon Removal: the process of removing CO2 from the atmosphere”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

DCC involves plants which extract carbon from the atmosphere. The captured carbon can then be pumped deep underground, often at depths of 1 kilometer (0.6 miles), and stored in depleted oil reserves, coalbeds, or saline aquifers. 

Direct carbon capture: the process of storing carbon dioxide that has been collected and removed from the atmosphere, in solid or liquid form”

Oxford Dictionary

The two main types of DCC are liquid and solid DCC:

  1. In liquid systems, air is passed through chemical solutions to remove the CO2
  2. In solid systems, sorbent filters are heated and placed under a vacuum to release CO2, which is then captured for storage or use.

How Do Direct Carbon Capture Offsets Work

Direct carbon capture (DCC) offsets are a technology-based carbon offset solution, where plants are constructed that suck CO2 out of the air and then store it permanently. CO2 reduction occurs immediately, making DCC an effective way to reduce CO2 emissions. 

In the following, we’ll have a closer look at the leading technological system, where CO2 is pumped in underground geological formations. 

However, it is important to note that there are other DCC technologies on the market that e.g., store CO2 with the help of ocean water, via mineralization, or even store it in husks for agricultural use. We’ll highlight a few of these later below in the section about how you can offset your carbon footprint with the best DCC offsets.

How and When Do Direct Carbon Capture Offset Projects Reduce CO2 Emissions

DCC refers to the direct elimination of carbon from our atmosphere. It is one way to mitigate the adverse effects of carbon emissions that occur once they enter our atmosphere.

How Do Direct Carbon Capture Projects Reduce CO2 Emissions

DCC projects reduce CO2 emissions via the use of plants that literally remove CO2 from the air:

  • For liquid DCC systems, air is passed through chemical solutions to remove the CO2.
  • For solid DCC systems, sorbent filters are heated and placed under a vacuum to release CO2

In both cases of liquid and solid DCC systems:

  1. CO2-free air is released into the atmosphere, 
  2. and the captured CO2 is then mixed with water and pumped several hundred meters underground to be stored permanently in geological formations. 
  3. The end result is less CO2 in the atmosphere and more CO2 stored beneath the surface of the Earth.

When Do Direct Carbon Capture Offset Projects Reduce CO2 Emissions

DCC removes CO2 emissions immediately upon operation of the DCC machines. Once air is sucked into the machines, the CO2 is filtered out and undergoes a separate process to store it underground. Also, the majority of captured CO2 is not re-emitted once it has been captured.

When comparing this to other methods of carbon removal like planting trees, we find that DCC reduces CO2 emissions faster and more permanently. 

  • For example, a newly planted tree could take upwards of 20 years to capture the amount of CO2 that most carbon offset programs promise. 
  • Also, there is always the risk of, e.g., droughts, wildfires, tree diseases, and deforestation wiping out newly planted trees, negating any carbon reduction benefits. 

What Could Prevent Direct Carbon Capture Offsets From Being Realized

DCC offsets are expensive, are not yet scaled to compensate for all of our global carbon emissions, and do not reduce your own carbon emissions. This could prevent DCC offsets from being realized.

Direct carbon capture (DCC) offsets currency range anywhere from $250-$1,200 per ton, the highest out of all carbon removal methods. In comparison, reforestation costs approximately $50 per ton

DCC offsets are also not yet sufficient to compensate for all of our carbon emissions. We emit more than 36 billion tons of carbon annually, but carbon offset credits for only ~1 billion tons of CO2 have been listed for sale on the voluntary market. The number of sellers also exceeds the buyers by about 600-700 million tons. This means that only about 0.8-1 % of our annual CO2 emissions are offset and only about 1.6-1.75% could be offset if all of these projects got realized.

Lastly, purchasing a carbon offset does not directly reduce your carbon footprint. It only makes others reduce their carbon footprint to compensate for your carbon footprint. 

If emissions are only offset and not reduced from the source, this could lead to greenwashing, when the consumer is deceived into thinking they are offsetting their emissions but in reality they are not.

What Is the Project Life-Cycle of Direct Carbon Capture Offset Projects

To fully understand DCC offsets, we must assess each stage of its life-cycle. This life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a method to evaluate the environmental impacts of products and materials. Over the years, companies have strategically used LCA to research and create more sustainable products. So, we had a look at the LCA for DCC offsets! 

Building of Direct Carbon Capture Offset Projects

The first step building DCC carbon offset projects is to build the DCC power plant. These DCC plants are most effective in locations where there is excess renewable energy available along with ample natural storage options for the captured carbon.

A DCC plant’s land usage requirement depends on the type of plant and the energy source that powers it. If the plant builds its own renewable energy source (i.e. a solar or wind farm), this would increase the land requirement. However, if the plant takes energy from the traditional power grid, then the land requirement would be little to none. 

However, the land usage requirement for DCC still remains low compared to other types of carbon removal. 

Lastly, building the components in a DCC plant requires machinery that emits CO2. The collectors, fans, and filters are all components of DCC plants with a carbon footprint.

Operating and Maintaining of Direct Carbon Capture Offset Projects

In general, DCC works by sucking atmospheric air into specialized machines which remove the CO2 so it can be pumped deep underground and stored in geological formations.

Although DCC facilities require energy to operate, they can re-emit only small amounts of CO2 if powered by low-carbon energy sources. 

For example, a study published by the RWTH Aachen University on Climeworks’ Orca DCC plant (more about that below) found that this plant re-emits less than 10% of the CO2 they capture when the plant is operated by low-carbon electricity. By the way, Climeworks minimizes energy consumption by only using renewable energy, energy-from-waste, or other waste heat as energy sources.

CO2 emissions at this stage are associated with the operation and maintenance of the DCC plant. Using low-carbon energy sources can help keep the carbon footprint of this phase very low.

DCC plants also require water to operate. Water usage also depends on the type of plant, as well as local temperature and humidity. 

End-of-Life of Direct Carbon Capture Offset Projects

The end-of-life of DCC offset projects is not well documented because DCC itself is a relatively new technology. For example, Climeworks launched the world’s first commercial DCC plant back in 2017. And DCC power plants have an estimated average life expectancy of 20 years, if properly maintained. 

In total, Climework’s Orca technology is the size of approximately 8 shipping containers, making it a relatively small system. CO2 emissions here would occur when utilizing construction equipment to decommission the system and perform land restoration. 

Orca: An Example Project of Direct Carbon Capture Offsets

Climeworks, a direct air capture company based in Zurich, Switzerland, is a leading company in the CO2 removal game. Their specialized machines take CO2 from the air, mix it with water, and pump it deep underground where it reacts with basalt rock to form solid carbonate minerals via natural processes.

Climeworks’ flagship project, Orca, is the world’s first large-scale CO2 removal plant

  • Orca was launched in 2021 as the world’s first and largest direct air capture and storage plant.
  • Orca consists of eight CO2 collector containers with a combined annual CO2 capture capacity of 4,000 tons – this is the equivalent of the annual emissions from approximately 790 cars.
  • Orca was built in Iceland because the country is renewable energy-rich but cannot easily export that excess energy. The facility’s heat and electrical needs are met by the Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant. Orca operating does not take away renewable energy needs from the rest of the country.

Climeworks’ Orca DCC machinery operates in the following manner: 

  1. Atmospheric air is sucked into a fan located inside of a collector, where it passes through a filter that traps CO2 particles.
  2. Once the filter is completely full of CO2, the collector closes.
  3. The temperature is increased to 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit), causing the filter to release the captured CO2.

Climeworks’ Icelandic partner, Carbfix, then stores the captured CO2 in the following manner:

  1. CO₂ is dissolved in water
  2. The CO2 slurry is injected underground where it reacts with basalt rock to form solid carbonate minerals via natural processes.
Illustration from Climework about how direct air capture and storage (DAC+S) works
Climeworks: How direct air capture and storage (DAC+S) works

Climeworks plans to achieve multi-megaton capacity by 2030 and gigaton capacity by 2050. Their overall goal is to further expand and deliver supply to an ever-growing market demand and prove technology at larger scale.

In addition, in late 2021, construction began for Climeworks’ newest DAC facility called Mammoth. This plant will have an annual CO2 capture capacity of 36,000 tons, which is roughly nine times that of Orca.

In terms of DCC carbon offsets, Climeworks is a leading B2B and B2C provider, and you can purchase your DCC offsets directly from their homepage

How Effective and Efficient Are Direct Carbon Capture Offsets

In terms of efficiency, direct carbon capture (DCC) offsets have a low rate of carbon re-emission, a low land-usage requirement, and a low life-cycle carbon footprint.

In terms of effectiveness, DCC offsets are effective at mitigating climate change because they are permanent and immediate, but they do not reduce your own carbon emissions.

DCC offset projects are efficient at reducing CO2 emissions because they:

DCC offsets are effective at mitigating climate change because they:

  • Permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere
  • Remove CO2 emissions immediately upon operation of the DCC machines

However, DCC offsets do not reduce your own carbon emissions, which can lead to greenwashing. This occurs when emissions are only offset and not reduced from the source, and the consumer is deceived into thinking they are offsetting their emissions but in reality they are not. This is why we should first reduce our emissions before relying on offsets.

Related: Are you interested in learning more about how effective and efficient direct carbon capture offsets are? Check out the full article here: “How Effective and Efficient Are Direct Carbon Capture Offsets? Here Are the Facts

How Could you Offset Your Own Carbon Footprint With Direct Carbon Capture Offsets

The market for carbon offsets was small in the year 2000, but by 2010 it had already grown to represent nearly $10 billion worldwide. The voluntary carbon offset market (VCM) is where everyday consumers can purchase carbon offsets to offset their carbon emissions. 

The Ecosystem Marketplace predicts the VCM can grow to $50B by the year 2050. And because DCC offsets are effective and efficient at reducing carbon emissions, they are predicted to make up an increasingly larger share of this market.

On the VCM, Climeworks is the leading business-to-consumer provider of DCC offsets. But there are others using biochar, mineralization, concrete, and the ocean to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and permanently lock it away for decades. Below are our favorite direct carbon capture offsets.

Direct Carbon Capture Offset CompanyQuick Facts
ClimeworksCarbon offset purchases support the practice of direct CO2 removal, where specialized machines remove CO2 directly from the air and store it in rock formations underground.
NovocarboNovocarbo uses pyrogenic carbon capture and storage, which converts CO2 into regenerative energy and biochar. The biochar can be used as soil, as a replacement for cement, and in regenerative agriculture.
HeirloomHeirloom’s technology speeds up the process of natural mineralization, whereby minerals absorb CO2 from the air. The CO2 is then injected underground and stored permanently.
CapturaCaptura’s systems use renewable electricity and ocean water to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
Carbin MineralsCarbin Minerals speeds up the natural process of weathering, where rocks absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and turn it into a mineral. They partner with mines and transform mine tailings into giant carbon sinks capable of extracting and permanently storing large amounts of CO2.
NeustarkNeustark stores removed CO2 in recycled concrete, and they cut new CO2 emissions by reducing the use of traditional cement.
Parallel CarbonParallel Carbon uses mineral looping to separate CO2 from the ambient air. The captured CO2 can be repurposed or injected underground and permanently stored.
Carbo CultureCarbo Culture’s patented technology, Carbolysis™, converts CO₂ from plants into biochar and stores it permanently underground.
CarbonbuiltCarbonbuilt takes CO2 generated by industrial processes and transforms it into precast concrete.
NoyaNoya specializes in direct air capture via retrofitted cooling towers that suck CO2 from the air. They then either sequester, sell, or repurpose the captured CO2.
Related: Are you interested in learning more about the best direct carbon capture offsets? Check out the full article here: “10 Best Direct Carbon Capture Offsets

How Can Direct Carbon Capture Offsets Help Mitigate Climate Change

Climate change is a severe and long-term consequence of fossil fuel combustion. DCC offsets can help mitigate climate change because they eliminate fossil-fuel derived carbon from our atmosphere which, if left untreated, can remain there for tens of thousands of years and exacerbate the negative effects of climate change.

How is Climate Change Defined

Climate change is arguably the most severe, long-term global impact of fossil fuel combustion. Every year, approximately 33 bt of CO2 are emitted from burning fossil fuels. The carbon found in fossil fuels reacts with oxygen in the air to produce CO2

Climate change: changes in the earth’s weather, including changes in temperature, wind patterns and rainfall, especially the increase in the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere that is caused by the increase of particular gasses, especially carbon dioxide.

Oxford Dictionary

Atmospheric CO2 fuels climate change, which results in global warming. When CO2 and other air pollutants absorb sunlight and solar radiation in the atmosphere, it traps the heat and acts as an insulator for the planet. Since the Industrial Revolution, Earth’s temperature has risen a little more than 1 degree Celsius (C), or 2 degrees Fahrenheit (F). Between 1880-1980 the global temperature rose by 0.07C every 10 years. This rate has more than doubled since 1981, with a current global annual temperature rise of 0.18C, or 0.32F, for every 10 years. 

As outlined in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, we must cut current GHG emissions by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050

How Do Carbon Offsets Generally Help Mitigate Climate Change

Levels of carbon in our atmosphere that cause climate change have increased as a result of human emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in 1750. The global average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today registers at over 400 parts per million. Carbon offsets can help prevent these levels from increasing even more.

When you hear the words “carbon offset”, think about the term “compensation”. Essentially, carbon offsets are reductions in GHG emissions that are used to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere

Carbon offsets that meet key criteria and verified project standards, are additional and permanent, and are a part of projects that are carried out until the end of their lifespan have the best chance of reducing carbon emissions and therefore reducing climate change. 

When we offset CO2 we also slow the rate of global temperature rise, which in turn minimizes the effects of climate change. 

How Do Direct Carbon Capture Offsets Specifically Help Mitigate Climate Change

DCC offsets specifically help mitigate climate change because they are certain, measurable, and immediate. 

  • DCC offsets are certain: Unlike traditional offsets which simply compensate for your carbon emissions, DCC offsets permanently remove CO2 from the atmosphere with a low rate of re-emission. Storing the carbon underground in rock formations is also a permanent process. 
  • DCC offsets are measurable: Climeworks DCC offsets are measurable, so you know precisely how much carbon dioxide they’ll remove in your name. This allows you to track how much CO2 you are offsetting compared to what your carbon footprint is.
  • DCCs are immediate: CO2 emissions reductions occur as soon as the machines become operational. Once the machines start sucking in atmospheric air, CO2 removal begins.

As outlined in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, we must cut current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. DCC is important to meet these targets because it eliminates carbon, which when emitted, can remain in our atmosphere for tens of thousands of years.

What Are The 7 Pros and 3 Cons of Direct Carbon Capture Offsets

Direct carbon capture (DCC) offsets are permanent, immediate, improve air quality and protect ecosystems, have low rates of carbon re-emission, have low land-usage requirements, and have a low carbon footprint across their life cycle stages. They also allow us to reduce carbon emissions in ways we wouldn’t be able to accomplish individually.

However, DCC offsets are also expensive, are not yet scaled to compensate for all of our global carbon emissions, and do not reduce your own carbon emissions.

Related: Are you interested in learning more about the pros and cons of direct carbon capture offsets? Check out the full article here: “Direct Carbon Capture Offsets: All 7 Pros and 3 Cons Explained

What Are the 7 Pros of Direct Carbon Capture Offsets

DCC offsets have various pros that make them an effective, long-term solution to reducing global atmospheric CO2 levels.

7 Pros of Direct Carbon Capture OffsetsQuick Facts
#1: DCC offsets permanently remove carbon from the atmosphereDirect carbon capture (DCC) offsets are a specific type of carbon offset that remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it permanently in geological reservoirs. 
#2: DCC plants have a low rate of carbon re-emission when the plant is operated by low-carbon electricity, making them effective at removing carbonDCC facilities require energy to operate, they can re-emit only small amounts of CO2 if powered by low-carbon energy sources (i.e., solar or wind power).
#3: DCC removes CO2 emissions immediately upon operation of the DCC machinesCO2 emissions reductions from direct carbon capture (DCC) offsets occur as soon as the machines become operational. Once the machines start sucking in atmospheric air, CO2 removal begins.
#4: DCC plants can have low land-usage requirements depending on the type of plant and the energy source that powers itThe land usage requirement for direct carbon capture (DCC) offsets is relatively low, averaging between 0.4 and 66km2 needed to capture 1 million tons of CO2.
#5: DCC offsets have a low life-cycle carbon footprintBuilding: If the DCC plant takes energy from the traditional power grid, then the land requirement would be little to none and the carbon footprint would be lower. 
Operating: Using low-carbon energy sources can help keep the carbon footprint of this phase very low, and DCC plants can have an average carbon re-emission rate as low as 10%
Building Back: DCC power plants have an estimated average life expectancy of 20 years if properly maintained. CO2 emissions here would occur when utilizing construction equipment to decommission the plant and perform land restoration. 
#6: DCC offsets improve air quality and protects ecosystemsRemoving carbon emissions from the atmosphere via DCC would lead to improved public health in terms of asthma, respiratory allergies, airway diseases, and lung cancer. Removing carbon from the atmosphere via DCC also promotes healthy ecosystems, which have been linked with cleaner air, water, and food
#7: DCC offsets allow us to reduce carbon emissions in ways we wouldn’t be able to accomplish individuallyWe already have governmental-level policies in place to reduce carbon emissions, but DCC carbon offsets allow us to reduce emissions from activities where sustainable alternatives are not yet widely available. 

What Are the 3 Cons of Direct Carbon Capture Offsets

Understanding the drawbacks of DCC offsets is important when implementing the technology on a large scale in order to mitigate climate change.

3 Cons of Direct Carbon Capture OffsetsQuick Facts
#1: DCC offsets are the most expensive method of carbon removalDirect carbon capture (DCC) offsets currency range anywhere from $250-$650 per ton, the highest out of all carbon removal methods. This cost varies depending on the type of technology.
#2: DCC offsets are not yet at a scale where they can compensate for our global carbon emissionsCurrently, direct carbon capture (DCC) offsets are also not scaled enough to keep pace with our global carbon emissions. Because there are relatively few companies engaged in DCC practices, the amount of carbon they can remove is also limited. 
#3: DCC offsets do not reduce you own carbon emissions, which can lead to greenwashingIf emissions are only offset and not reduced from the source, this could lead to greenwashing, when the consumer is deceived into thinking they are offsetting their emissions but in reality they are not. 

What Are Better Alternatives to Direct Carbon Capture Offsets

If used correctly, direct carbon capture offsets can provide environmental, economic, and social benefits beyond reducing carbon emissions. They have the potential to instigate meaningful environmental change and begin to reverse some of the effects of climate change. 

However, we can’t let this method be a guilt-free way to reduce carbon emissions. Direct carbon capture offsets must be used in conjunction with direct carbon reduction measures until the industry has time to invest, develop, and refine the DCC technology.

These reduction measures don’t have to involve drastic changes either. Actions that may seem small can have a big impact because those small changes add up! You can reduce your carbon footprint in three main areas of your life: household, travel, and lifestyle. 

Reduce your household carbon footprint:

Reduce your travel carbon footprint:

  • Walk or bike when possible: The most efficient ways of traveling are walking, bicycling, or taking the train. Using a bike instead of a car can reduce carbon emissions by 75%. These forms of transportation also provide lower levels of air pollution.

Reduce your lifestyle carbon footprint:

  • Switch to renewable energy sources: The six most common types of renewable energy are solar, wind, hydro, tidal, geothermal, and biomass energy. They are a substitute for fossil fuels that can reduce the effects of global warming by limiting global carbon emissions and other pollutants.
  • Recycle: Recycling uses less energy and deposits less waste in landfills. Less manufacturing and transportation energy costs means fewer carbon emissions generated. Less waste in landfills means less CH4 is generated.
  • Eat less meat and dairy: Meat and dairy account for 14.5% of global GHG emissions, with beef and lamb being the most carbon-intensive. Globally, we consume much more meat than is considered sustainable, and switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet could reduce emissions. 
  • Take shorter showers: Approximately 1.2 trillion gallons of water are used each year in the United States just for showering purposes, and showering takes up about 17% of residential water usage. The amount of water consumed and the energy cost of that consumption are directly related. The less water we use the less energy we use. And the less energy we use, the less of a negative impact we have on the environment.

Because DCC offsets are an indirect way and not a direct way of reducing emissions, they alone will not be enough to reduce global carbon emissions significantly. Direct measures of emission reductions, such as reducing individual energy use and consumption, are better alternatives to DCC offsets. 

Related: Are you interested in learning why reducing your carbon footprint is so important? Check it out in this article here: “4 Main Reasons Why Reducing Your Carbon Footprint Is Important

Final Thoughts

Direct carbon capture offsets are a specific type of carbon offset that remove carbon from the atmosphere. Specialized machinery sucks CO2 from the atmosphere and pumps it into underground geological formations, where it is permanently stored. CO2 reduction occurs immediately, making DCC an effective and efficient way to reduce CO2 emissions. 

Although DCC offsets can instigate meaningful change, they should not be seen as the only solution to climate change. They are effective at reducing CO2 in the short-term, but in the long term they fail to reduce CO2 enough. DCC offsets also do not reduce your own carbon emissions, which can lead to greenwashing.

When used in conjunction with direct CO2 reduction measures, carbon offsetting can be much more effective. We should reduce our own carbon footprint as much as possible first, and only then choose the most effective carbon offsets.

Stay impactful,

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Grace Smoot

Grace loves to research and write about all things related to climate action and sustainability. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology and works as an Environmental Survey Technician. Outside of work, she loves to work out, play soccer, and take her dog for long walks.

Did you know that the internet is a huge polluter of the environment? But fortunately not this site. This site is powered by renewable energy and all hosting-related CO2 emissions are offset by three times as many renewable energy certificates. Find out all about it here.

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