In the past, companies around the world and across different industries have sidelined communities, leaving them without a voice in key decisions about a project’s siting and overall direction. In the case of disadvantaged communities, including Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color as well as low-income communities, this disenfranchisement has often occurred in tandem with industries’ willful neglect of the environment, resulting in public health disasters and widespread environmental contamination.

Carbon removal’s nascency means there is still time to shape the direction of this emerging field and grow the industry in ways that address environmental justice issues head on. Reaching (and maintaining) gigaton scale will require that solutions developers prioritize environmental justice (EJ) within their projects. EJ is not merely a “nice to have” but a fundamental component of a carbon removal company’s social license to operate. By embedding EJ into a company at every stage of development, carbon removal can be a vehicle for bringing about transformative social change, not only addressing but redressing structural power imbalances and historic harms.

XPRIZE and Carbon180 have partnered on a new report exploring how solutions developers can integrate EJ into their work from day one. From the Ground Up: Recommendations for Building an Environmentally Just Carbon Removal Industry provides a snapshot of how innovators are thinking about EJ today alongside tailored recommendations for early-stage startups to build equitable and just companies.

Read the full report here.

Cover image by Matt Donders.