Should we be looking at the root causes of CO2 emissions instead?

My main comment about this is the focus solely on technology development. While this is important, there is no disputing humans’ availability to create new technologies; that is the easy part. And also, let’s not forget that our planet does not need our help in replenishing itself.

it is imperative that we look at the root causes of the problems. So instead of capturing CO2, we need to look at what produces the C02 emissions.

If we break down the emissions by economic sectors, you will notice that Agriculture, Forestry and Land use represent 18.4% - 24% of global emissions.

I talk about agriculture because this factor can be addressed with social-economic inclusion instead of technology development.

Allow me to elaborate,

As an example, the price of green coffee has remained in a downward trend since the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) member countries’ inability to sign the international coffee agreement in 1983.

Despite revenues for roasters and retailers have increased over the past two decades, the volatile nature of commodities prices, green coffee production surplus, and lack of information on the real full cost of production means that many farmers in coffee-producing countries struggle to cover their production costs and as a consequence their ability to increase their living standard.

To cope with these challenges, farmers have been forced to increase their productivity and efficiency. For this, coffee farmers clean large parts of the rainforest to increase their production.

An extensive review of published data on coffee land-use change suggests that apart from Brazil, where increases in production are driven by technology, in nearly all countries where coffee production is expanding rapidly, deforestation is the primary source of new coffee lands.

The data shows that there is a correlation between falling coffee prices and deforestation due to coffee production.

In summary, this cycle goes like this: Falling coffee prices- increase poverty-need to increase production-deforestation-Co2 emissions.

That is why I suggest focusing less on technology development and addressing the social-economic discussion on sustainability.

Thanks for your comment, @Vanessa3000! I don’t think it’s a question of either-or. The question for us, at XPRIZE, is how can we best leverage our strength – incentivized prize competitions – to address this issue?

Reducing emissions is critical, but that requires policy change.

I do think some of our competitions help move the world in that direction. Consider XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion. If we successfully incentivize the development and eventually mass production and consumption of non-animals meats, that could make a huge and positive impact on our planet.

I see this brought up a lot when discussing the competition- why should we focus on Carbon Capture when we should address the root cause?

To @NickOttens 's point, reducing emissions does require policy change which is a huge hurdle that may not be economically incentivized- why should companies go out of their way to reduce carbon emissions without an incentive or being required to (this recent videoby vox shows the effectiveness of optional policies that goes against company incentives). I believe carbon emissions are rising each year and not only do we need to develop carbon emission solutions that align with consumer and company incentives but also create carbon capture technology in the process. There is already so much carbon in our atmosphere and we continue to produce more every year. I’m not sure if cutting emissions is enough alone - we need to start removing.

If we could not only create gigaton scale carbon capture technology but one that is economically incentivized, there could exist entire industries that remove carbon. It’s a cool thought I poke around in my head and I would love to see a circular economy in the future where the carbon removed is reused in construction materials, consumer products, etc. From what I’ve seen, there is an overwhelming amount of initiatives focusing on carbon emission reduction but barely anything regarding carbon removal itself. I’m just glad to see it’s an idea being put into our psyche through this competition which could spur out incredible world-changing innovations.

I guess all that is easier than addressing the real problem.

The inequitable and unsustainable consumption levels of the wealthy and rich industrialised nations are dependent upon the violent processes of metal and mineral extraction, overwhelmingly in the world’s poorest areas.

The vast majority of proposals for a ‘green’ transition assume greater levels of material extraction alongside persisting inequalities in consumption levels.

The OECD Global Resource Outlook ‘Business As Usual’ scenario projects that the mass of extracted resources will increase by 111% by 2060, from its current global level of 79 to 167 billion tonnes per annum. This would have catastrophic social and ecological implications and would overwhelmingly affect communities on the frontlines of extractive projects and some of the world’s poorest populations.
Frontline communities would face increased displacement, eroded livelihoods, contaminated air, soil, and water, and cultural destruction but by all means, we must remove emissions.