Elon Musk to Give $100M for Best Carbon Capture Technology

Several systems show significant promise.

Despite the fact that the world’s richest increased their wealth dramatically during the pandemic, there were still some moments of philanthropy that might even warm the heart, and hands, of Bernie Sanders himself.

The latest is from Elon Musk, the man battling it out with Jeff Bezos for world’s richest person, who announced an initiative that targets innovation related to climate change.

In a competition announced late last week, Musk said he will give $100 million in prize money to the person or team who can develop the best carbon capture technology.

Carbon capture is designed to pull carbon emissions from the atmosphere and store them in an effort to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases and, ultimately, slow down related climate change. This has always been touted as an accessory to carbon reduction strategies, but although progress in being made on that front, carbon capture technology still has room for improvement.

According to Julio Friedmann, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, carbon capture technology has actually been around, in early iterations, since 1938, but industrial facilities today are capturing “less than 1% of the CO2 that is required to meet the Paris agreement targets for 2040.” But the good news, says Friedmann, is that there are several technologies that show significant promise, and that it’s generally agreed that the processes are safe.

President Biden has also said he plans to accelerate the development of carbon capture by providing tax breaks and federal investment dollars. Musk’s attempt to sweeten the pot could mean accelerating this kind of development further — and it can’t come a moment too soon.

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