Amazon is the latest tech giant to embrace the idea of filtering carbon dioxide from the air as a way to combat climate change. The company is backing an oil giant, Occidental Petroleum, to help it do just that. Amazon announced today that it plans to purchase 250,000 metric tons of carbon removal from Occidental subsidiary 1PointFive.
This is the latest in a series of announcements from big tech companies turning to emerging carbon removal technologies to help them meet their climate goals. Sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere is one way to try to undo the damage caused by pollution that companies have already caused. But much of the carbon removal industry has deep ties to oil and gas. And when companies like Amazon pay to deal with their pollution in this way, that doesn’t necessarily stop them from continuing to create more pollution by burning fossil fuels.
This is the latest in a series of announcements from big tech companies turning to emerging carbon removal technologies to help them meet their climate goals.
Occidental subsidiary 1PointFive plans to build huge industrial facilities, called direct air capture (DAC) plants, in Texas that are supposed to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Amazon says the CO2 will be sequestered underground to prevent it from escaping into the atmosphere. Occidental, however, has also used carbon removal to sell what is called “net zero oil”, produced by shooting CO2 into the ground to expel hard-to-access oil reserves.
The Biden administration has arguably been as enthusiastic about decarbonizing as tech companies. The Department of Energy (DOE) decided to fund a project 1PointFive is developing at King Ranch in Texas as the site of one of the first “hubs” for direct air capture plants in the U.S. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Act passed In 2021, it allocates $3.5 billion in federal funds for at least four DAC centers across the United States.
In addition to its carbon removal purchase from Occidental’s 1PointFive, Amazon also said today that it is “making an investment” in another California-based DAC company called CarbonCapture that will provide Amazon with credits worth 100,000 tons of carbon removal. CarbonCapture is building another large direct air capture plant in Wyoming. But there is a key difference. Both CarbonCapture and Climeworks have previously said The edge They have no plans to use their technology alongside oil production as Occidental has done.
Today’s announcement from Amazon is a pretty big purchase for the burgeoning carbon removal industry, but it still represents a fraction of the company’s greenhouse gas emissions. By The edgeAccording to Amazon estimates, Amazon’s purchase from 1PointFive could add up to $150,000,000 (direct air capture typically costs around $600 per ton of CO2, although policymakers are trying to reduce that price with incentives) . Occidental also plans to use Amazon Web Services to “analyze real-time performance data and optimize operations” at its future DAC plants.
He Wall Street Journal He estimated that Microsoft’s purchase from Heirloom last week. It cost around 200 million dollars. While that could be a lot of money, the amount of carbon dioxide that Microsoft and Amazon are paying to capture still pales in comparison to the amount of climate pollution they continue to produce.
Amazon says its commitment to pay 1PointFive for removing 250,000 metric tons of carbon over a decade is equivalent to the carbon sequestered by a forest about half the size of Rhode Island. By comparison, Amazon pumped out more than 71 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year alone. The company pledged in 2019 to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. But, according to its most recent report Sustainability reportThe company’s carbon footprint has increased about 39 percent since 2019, when it made that climate commitment.