Lately, I’ve been noticing more and more startups that try to tackle climate change. And they seem to be backed by big venture capitalists, too. The problem is that almost all of them focus on the wrong thing, which is trying to create new carbon sequestration technology.
To halt anthropogenic climate change, we humans need to do a bunch of things. There is not one single silver bullet. But inventing new methods for carbon sequestration is not one of them. The reason is simple: There seems to be no straight-forward path to create a technology that can sequestrate carbon at a big enough scale and at low enough energy and monetary costs.
Instead, we need to focus on two main things. First, we need to avoid emitting greenhouse gases in the first place. We can do this by switching to renewable energy sources like wind and solar, and by drastically shifting the population to a plant-based diet. Second, we need to restore and expand natural sources of carbon sequestration. Natural vegetation such as forests and coastal areas do a great job at that, already removing 41% of all GHG today.
The problem is, these are unsexy solutions, and nobody is really going to make money off of restoring old forests. Techies and investors don’t understand environmental science and just invest in these shiny companies because it sounds cool on the surface, and because they think people will think more highly of them if they invest in startups that “do good”.