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A DJ’s Dilemma: Carbon Offset vs Carbon Removal


carbon removal technology

If you’re a touring DJ or artist, your life likely revolves around flights. And despite the most green-hearted of intentions, frequent flying remains one of the biggest elephants in the room for the music industry amid the climate emergency.


For DJs, seasoned festival-goers and holiday-makers jetting abroad for their music-filled sunshine fix, the jet-setting way of life is not without its impact - and this sentiment couldn’t have been made clearer by Cur8:


“Even if we do everything right on emissions, the world still needs to remove up to 220 Gigatonnes of carbon from the atmosphere by 2050 to reach net zero.”


(More on Cur8 and other carbon removal innovators later).


When you let that sink in, it’s a sobering thought. But what if you could just click your fingers and your carbon footprint disappeared?


Ah. Stop right there.


Sadly, there’s no magic fix for our carbon emissions, which is exactly why each of us must take as much responsibility as we can when it comes to finding alternatives for flying.


While incentivising artists to play local gigs and encouraging party-goers to explore events in their area is one way around this, we know (notably due to strict exclusivity criteria) that it’s not always possible.


So, how do we work around instances where flying is essential?


Let’s start off with the thing that you’re likely already familiar with: carbon offsetting.


Carbon Offsetting is a feel-good token…


You’ve probably heard of carbon offsetting: the concept that allows flyers to calm their conscience by ‘offsetting’ the carbon emitted during their flight.


In short, a carbon ‘offset’ is an action that works to reduce carbon emitted in the FUTURE - basically something to somewhat mitigate (but not cure) the emissions that are already being produced as a result of human activity.


These purchased ‘offsets’ are often invested in external projects - from preserving forests and marine ecosystems, to restoring degraded landscapes and planting trees where there were none before. Of course, planting trees will always be essential to Earth’s ecosystem. But years of care are required before a tree can reach its full carbon-capturing heights, limiting the capacity for immediate carbon reduction.


Biogas or solar panel investments are also needed in the grand-scheme of climate transition, but they only promise to "not emit GHG" in the future; they do not do anything for the emissions you have put out into the atmosphere by taking your last flight.


Therefore, despite good intentions, purchasing an ‘offset’ is essentially a token. Yes, it may ease your conscience, but there’s no getting around the fact that carbon is still entering the atmosphere and contributing to a warming planet.


Removal, however, aims to rectify the damage.


…Carbon Removal is Cure


Carbon removal actively extracts and effectively stores the carbon that’s already out there.


And as we’ve just mentioned, it’s not just about planting trees - while many ethical tree-planting initiatives are great, using this to justify further release of carbon into the atmosphere is not so great.


Oceanic carbon capture, as well as capturing carbon from the air (either to convert into less harmful gases, or store beneath Earth’s surface) are a couple of ways to perform carbon capture.


Converting greenhouse emissions into less harmful gases may sound pretty tricky, and it is.

Like all novel technologies undergoing research and development, a small premium on price is to be expected. But, advocating for this innovation to be adopted as standard by the UN and environmental treaties will help bring down the price, as companies integrate carbon capture into their Carbon Neutral strategies, instead of carbon offset.


The key things to look out for with any good carbon offset or removal project are as follows: they need to be measurable, add legitimately to carbon reduction (meaning there should be a null sum of carbon for the environment), be long-lasting and not have other negative impacts (e.g. on indigenous communities or land use).


To get you started, here’s a couple of independently verified Carbon Removal programs to consider next time you take to the skies:


Cur8


We mentioned it earlier, but it’s a statement worth repeating: “Even if we do everything right on emissions, the world still needs to remove up to 220 Gigatonnes of carbon from the atmosphere by 2050 to reach net zero.” How can we do that? That’s where Cur8 comes in. Ticking the boxes on credentials, Cur8 are facilitating carbon removals via forests, construction, soil, oceans and direct air capture, just to name a few.


Climeworks


Offering an impressive solution to direct air capture and storage, Climeworks are another pioneer of carbon removal. Harnessing the highest quality innovation to transform CO2 to stone, this kind of carbon capture is everything you’d hope for: permanent, measurable and highly scalable.


The bottom line is this: research your carbon footprint, do what you can to reduce it and always favour carbon removal initiatives for real-time balancing of unavoidable emissions.


Want to learn more? Check out our co-founders Camille Guitteau and BLOND:ISH in conversation with Jose Lagarellos (Founder of Chamonix Unlimited) to address the travel dilemma at Unlimited’s Chamonix panel back in April.


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