Humans are increasing the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. There are plenty of intertwined reasons; political, economic and social. What’s certain is that its contribution to climate change and ocean acidification will have a devastating outcome if we don’t do something about it.

Climate change continues to present serious risks to the Earth’s societies, economies, biodiversity, environments and cultures.

A big contribution to the problem is the increased emission of greenhouse gases, namely carbon dioxide (CO2) from our human activities. Too much CO2 in the atmosphere is also being absorbed by the oceans, causing ocean acidification.

We must continue to cut global carbon emissions. But are there additional ways of removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere that could help?

That’s where the Virgin Earth Challenge comes in. It’s a prize for sustainable and scalable ways of removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Some critics have suggested this is impossible or fundamentally flawed. Others have suggested we shouldn’t even think about removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere until we’ve totally cut all of our emissions in the first place.

In reality, there’s a need to do both. As the recent NAS report on carbon removal says: “Absent some new technological innovation, large-scale CDR techniques have costs comparable to or exceeding those of avoiding carbon dioxide emissions by replacing fossil fuels with low-carbon energy sources”. It’s not a case of either/or.

And as the window to avoiding a +2°C world gets ever smaller, we should be exploring ways of removing GHGs safely from the atmosphere as well as relentlessly cutting our GHG emissions.

The Virgin Earth Challenge was set up to do just that.

After several lengthy stages of rigorous technical analysis we identified 11 finalists . Whilst none met the tough criteria of the competition…yet…, they showed the strongest potential to remove greenhouse gases from our atmosphere in a environmentally sustainable and economically viable way as they move forward.