Tourism is responsible for more than 11% of global CO₂ emissions. This translates into 4.5 Gt of CO₂ per year (source here). For 7.6 billion people on earth, that equals 600 kg per human. Since the tourism industry is predicted to double its size in the next 20 years, these numbers will go even higher. Of course the first thing we think about are flight emissions - and they are indeed responsible for one fifth of those emissions. But we also have to think about emissions caused by using infrastructure, by energy use, by visiting sights, by taking part in activities, by consuming local food and by drinking bottled water. The cleaning of your hotel bed sheets and the souvenirs you buy for your loved ones at home - there are many smaller emissions which all add up to a significant amount.
There are emissions that we cannot avoid. As a Climeworks Pioneer you join us in the fight to turn those unavoidable emissions into stone: Explorer 15% of 600kg; Discoverer 45% and Special Expedition 100%.
Trees should absolutely be planted. If done well, afforestation comes with a number of important benefits such as reduced soil erosion and increased biodiversity. But one measure alone will not be sufficient: in this current climate crisis we are not at a point where we can choose either/or.
We need all solutions working together. We will have to use traditional carbon-mitigation methods (like electric cars, solar energy, energy efficiency) to achieve carbon neutrality and on top of that, also remove CO₂ from the atmosphere, using multiple different approaches, to limit global heating to safe levels.
With afforestation on a big scale comes conflict of land- and water usage. One tree sequesters approx. 25kg CO₂/year thus making one Climeworks collector (50t CO₂/year) 2000 times as efficient as a tree in terms of land area covered (source here) - it’s small land and water usage can avoid further conflicts of feeding a growing population.
The pioneering process of turning CO₂ into stone is safe. It happens through a combination of CO₂ capture from the air and rapid underground mineralisation - a natural process whereby the CO₂ reacts with the basaltic rock to become solid calcite matter (another form of rock) within a few years. No weather conditions or fire can harm it or cause an outbreak of CO₂: In this calcite form the CO₂ is removed from the atmosphere permanently and safely. The basaltic conditions at existing geothermal power plants in Iceland make it one of the best places to start the permanent storage of CO₂. There are, however, more places that can have ideal conditions. For example the Icelandic Rift System with a capacity of 50 million tons of CO₂ per year (source here). On a global scale studies have estimated an overall capacity of 30 trillion tons of CO₂ (source here). You can find other suitable locations for example in North America, the Middle East or China.
You can learn more about the mineralisation process that turns CO₂ into stone on the CarbFix website.