Carbon180: Deep Dive

Read our full Deep Dive on Carbon180:

2021-11 Carbon180
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Executive Summary

In this document, we provide a descriptive overview of Carbon180’s activities and describe a quantitative cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) model that assesses the organization’s marginal impact. Based on our assessment, we believe that Carbon180’s work on supporting carbon removal technologies and practices will lead to reductions in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. We focused our assessment on Carbon180’s federal policy workstream, which included advocating for carbon removal and carbon management solutions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Build Back Better Act. Carbon180’s other work, which was not incorporated into our CEA model, includes its programs on improving soil carbon practices and bringing carbon removal research to market. It is also starting some initial work on developing a federal procurement program to expand the carbon removal market.


Image credit: Matjaz Krivic / Climate Visuals Countdown

We estimated that Carbon180’s work on federal policy can remove CO2 from the atmosphere at a cost of $0.66 per metric ton (in expectation), which compares favorably to other high-performing organizations that we have analyzed. Because our CEA model only includes Carbon180’s work on federal legislation and does not include Carbon180’s full portfolio of work, it seems likely that we may even have underestimated Carbon180’s impact and cost-effectiveness.


Notably, a large part of Carbon180’s potential impact relies on how quickly the cost of negative emission technologies drops over time. Although this aspect of Carbon180’s work is inherently uncertain, Carbon180 is directly driving down costs by advocating for increased funding for carbon removal research and development. We are cautiously optimistic that Carbon180 will remain cost-effective in the future because it has proven itself to be nimble and has also maintained a portfolio of solutions instead of honing in on any one type of carbon removal technology or practice. It therefore seems likely to us that Carbon180 would be able to pivot if one of its projects turned out to be less impactful than expected.


We recommend Carbon180 as one of our top charities to donate to based on its strategy of supporting neglected technologies and practices, organizational strengths, and cost-effectiveness. However, we are somewhat uncertain about Carbon180’s need for more funding in the near future and its ability to scale. Nonetheless, we still believe that it is worthy of a recommendation given its past performance and current funding gap. We may change our recommendation in the future if Carbon180 raises more money than it can spend effectively.


Overview

Carbon180 is an insider policy advocacy organization that focuses on accelerating the development of carbon removal solutions. Its four initiatives include (1) building and enacting federal policy to scale up carbon removal solutions, (2) accelerating the adoption of soil carbon sequestration practices, (3) encouraging community engagement between carbon removal researchers, and (4) stimulating innovation. In terms of federal policy, Carbon180 both develops and lobbies for policies that support carbon removal technologies and practices. For example, it has developed policy playbooks for both the Biden administration and Congress. In 2021, its federal policy work included advocating for carbon removal research, development, and deployment (RD&D) and increasing the 45Q tax credit for carbon sequestration and direct air capture (DAC). Outside of the US, Carbon180 has worked on expanding carbon removal internationally such as through its partnership with Carbon Gap.


Giving Green's Research

We researched Carbon180 by reviewing publicly available information about the organization, speaking with its representatives, speaking with multiple experts on carbon removal and climate policy, and conducting a CEA based on data that we found. Publicly available information on Carbon180 included its website and various policy reports as well as media coverage of the organization. Founders Pledge, an organization that recommends impactful donation opportunities to entrepreneurs, also has a report on Carbon180’s work that covers its benefits and general cost-effectiveness.