A carbon capture company says it has passed what could be a very important milestone in the fight against climate change. Climeworks says it has successfully pulled carbon dioxide from the air and stored it underground, where it will turn to rock, NBC News reports. While other firms are working on similar projects, this is the first time a company "has actually done it at a meaningful scale using a third-party verified process," the Wall Street Journal reports. In 2021, the Swiss company opened the world's biggest carbon capture facility, a plant in Iceland named Orca, powered by geothermal energy. The company aims to expand into the US, where the 2021 infrastructure bill included funding for direct air-capture hubs.
"We hope we are growing from a teenager to a grown-up in this industry," Christoph Gebald, co-founder and co-chief executive of Climeworks, tells the Journal. The company, founded in 2009, has carbon credit deals with Microsoft, Shopify, and other companies seeking to declare themselves carbon neutral. It has also secured more than $600 million from investors to scale up the business, which can currently only deal with a tiny fraction of the world's carbon emission. Climeworks is building a second, larger direct-air capture plant in Iceland but it will only be able to remove around 36,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the air every year—a millionth of the 36.3 billion tons the International Energy Agency says was emitted in 2021. (Read more carbon capture stories.)