For carbon dioxide removal (CDR) advocates, 2023 was a year of exciting milestones as well as shared challenges. As carbon removal moves increasingly mainstream and enjoys significant federal and private sector investment, government, innovators, and nonprofits are working to set a foundation for responsible deployment. CDR has also faced its share of trials in 2023, as political instability stalled Farm Bill negotiations, delaying funding for critical CDR programs, and the Inflation Reduction Act broadly continued to be a point of debate for Congress.

But carbon removal remains a uniquely bipartisan climate solution, and this year several bills were championed across the aisle, including the Advancing Research on Agricultural Climate Impacts (ARACI) Act and the Carbon Removal and Emissions Storage Technologies (CREST) Act. There is a lot to be excited and hopeful about, so we put together some 2023 highlights below.

What’s next in 2024?

More than just DAC.

Too often, carbon removal is reduced to just DAC, but it’s a whole lot more than that. In 2024, we will see a greater federal policy focus on oceans, enhanced weathering, soils, forests, and biomass with carbon removal and storage (BiCRS). This is alongside existing private sector investment in these pathways, from purchases to new companies entering the space.

Robust community engagement.

As DAC hubs and other carbon removal projects take shape, we will hear from communities about how they feel about CDR in their backyard and see how developers respond to these concerns. Early community engagement can set best practices in the long term and will be a crucial opportunity to get large-scale deployment right.

More mainstream climate engagement on CDR.

To date, carbon removal and carbon mitigation advocates have been working on climate action in their own silos. We can expect increasing consensus around the necessity of carbon removal while still prioritizing decarbonization.

Standards, standards, standards!

As private sector demand for CDR grows and policymakers introduce more carbon removal bills, the field will need to agree on what really counts as good carbon removal.

Edited by Ana Little-Saña. Image by Jan Huber.