Carbon180 is a climate–focused nonprofit on a mission to fundamentally rethink carbon. The organization champions the development and implementation of carbon removal technologies and practices– a critical but relatively neglected component of achieving climate goals. It does this through research, policy development and advocacy and innovation support.

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The problem: Climate Change

Human activities have warmed the climate at a rate that is unprecedented. While climate change is poised to have devastating impacts everywhere, those in global extreme poverty will be hardest hit. Climate change will both push more people into extreme poverty and catastrophically affect the lives of people already in extreme poverty. According to the World Bank, “up to 132 million people may fall into poverty by 2030 due to the manifold effects of climate change.”[1] The effects of climate change on the world’s poor include forced displacement, destruction of homes and property, health effects from extreme weather events (droughts, floods, wildfires, hurricanes, exposure to extreme temperatures), impacts on crop yields, food prices and food insecurity.[2]

Photo credits – Jay Mantri

The most widespread scientific benchmark for measuring global warming is the rise in average temperature relative to pre-industrial levels. This has already increased by 1.1°C.  The 2015 Paris Agreement aims to ensure no higher than a 2°C rise by 2100 and endeavours to limit it to 1.5°C. But even those increases would be catastrophic. And the scale of global action required to limit warming to 1.5°C – a devastating, nonetheless best–case scenario – is historically unprecedented.[3]

The solution: Carbon Removal

In order to fully address climate change, we need to both reduce emissions and remove carbon that already exists in our atmosphere. Removing carbon is a critical component of keeping warming below catastrophic levels, but has nonetheless been relatively neglected. According to the IPCC, the future of a livable planet relies, at least partly, on removing anywhere from 100 billion to a trillion tons of carbon already in our atmosphere by 2100, depending on how much we keep adding to it.[4]

Carbon removal solutions – methods of removing previously emitted carbon dioxide from the ambient air – encompass a broad range of approaches. These include natural solutions, such as planting more trees and changing our agricultural practices to those that store carbon in soils. They also include technological interventions, such as enhanced weathering and direct air capture [5] 

Carbon 180 DAC direct air capture, Photo credits: Drmakete

Numerous engineering, financial, and political challenges stand in the way of scaling up carbon removal solutions.[6] However, to meet our climate goals, it is imperative that we deploy permanent and safe carbon removal solutions in the coming decades at an extraordinary scale and in a just and equitable way. 

How Carbon180 works

Carbon180 Triangle

Carbon180 champions a broad range of carbon removal solutions by designing and advancing policies that help catalyze innovation and  deployment.

  • Research: Carbon180 conducts research and analysis that provides impact-oriented policy recommendations rooted in science and justice. Their research on carbon removal technologies and practices informs their policy development and advocacy. 
  • Policy Development & Advocacy: Climate goals won’t be met without government support for technologies and practices that take carbon out of the atmosphere and federal policy can help ensure carbon removal is scaled in ways that are equitable and just. Carbon180 applies their experience working with innovators, farmers, foresters and  environmental justice experts to develop carbon removal policies and build coalitions to campaign for their adoption. They support community-centered, science-driven policies to rapidly scale up necessary carbon removal solutions. [7]
  • Innovation Support: Carbon180, alongside Activate and Stripe Climate, has co–developed the “Activate Fellowship program” that supports entrepreneurs in taking their carbon removal innovations from lab to market. Carbon180 has also supported several successful carbon removal startups, including Heirloom and CarbonPlan, with its entrepreneur-in-residence program [8]
Carbon 180 climate-smart farms and forests, Photo credits: Jan Kopriva

What makes Carbon180 so effective

Proven results

Carbon180 has had numerous successes in the different activities it engages in. Take policy advocacy: Carbon180 has successfully advocated for the inclusion of carbon removal in a number of bills, including the Energy Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the Build Back Better Act.[9] 

Focus on neglected climate change solution

Despite being essential for meeting ambitious climate targets, policy support for carbon removal so far has been limited.[10] Moreover, carbon removal technologies are currently in their early stages of development and are too expensive to scale widely. Support for carbon removal research, development, and deployment (RD&D) is crucial because investing in carbon removal technologies can drive down their cost and eventually enable them to scale.[11]

Collaborative approach

Carbon180 has a collaborative approach to removing carbon. It coordinates with like–minded organizations focused on carbon removal, builds coalitions to facilitate joint action and community engagement, supports research and innovation and works with on-the-ground practitioners to accelerate deployment.


Giving Green estimates that Carbon180’s work on federal policy can remove CO2 from the atmosphere at a cost of $0.66 per metric ton. Because their model only includes short term effects of Carbon180’s work on federal legislation, Giving Green thinks it is likely that they have underestimated Carbon180’s impact and cost-effectiveness.[12]

Frequently Asked Questions

According to Founders Pledge, there are multiple reasons why carbon removal is systematically neglected. These reasons include: 

  • Relative novelty: Compared to other solutions, the scale at which carbon removal will be needed has only been recently widely acknowledged
  • Seemingly far away: Deployment and scaling of carbon removal technologies is perceived to be required far into the future, despite evidence suggesting we must implement these technologies urgently
  • Lack of tangible benefits outside climate: The primary benefit of carbon removal technologies is their climate change mitigation potential. With a few exceptions, they do not provide energy or other benefits.[13]

Carbon180 conducts research that enables them to provide scientifically–based, equitable and just, and impact-oriented policy recommendations.  To give some examples, Carbon180 developed a white paper on low-carbon concrete, which also included recommendations for a federal procurement strategy; They published a report on justice-oriented policies to scale carbon removal; They developed a list of priorities for administrative action with the goal of equipping the administration with a policy playbook for a carbon-removing future; They developed a Congressional blueprint for scaling carbon removal.[14]

Carbon180 has successfully advocated for the inclusion of carbon removal in a number of bills, including the Energy Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the Build Back Better Act. Policy provisions that were passed through the Energy Act and infrastructure bill include authorization of the first-ever federal carbon removal R&D program, a competitive direct  air capture prize, regional direct air capture hubs, and funding for carbon storage.[15]

Currently, carbon removal technologies face limited corporate interest because of high cost and relative newness. To address these concerns, catalyze carbon removal scale-up, and set a model for the corporate world, Carbon180 plans on working with other organizations to drive federal procurement of carbon removal services and products, advising the administration on policy implementation, educating policymakers on the role of procurement, convening stakeholders, and advocating for legislation that would support this new and novel idea. Carbon180 also plans on addressing non-economic barriers to scaling up carbon removal such as permitting, access to CO2 storage networks, and financing. [16]

Throughout their work, Carbon180 is prioritizing frontline communities across the United States, who have historically been excluded by climate solutions or harmed by extractive industries. The organization believes that carbon removal, if scaled in partnership with communities and with just policies, can redress harms for people who are already bearing the brunt of climate change.

Fighting the climate crisis requires systemic change and we believe that the most effective giving opportunities are organizations working to enact such systemic policy change. Such work can have an outsized potential impact in helping people in extreme poverty. 

The US is amongst the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters in total volume and also has one of the world’s highest rates of greenhouse gas emissions per capita. Furthermore, to date the US has not adopted strong, nation-wide climate policy under a comprehensive framework. Finally, the US is the world’s largest funder of research and development and could therefore play a crucial role in developing key technologies needed to fight climate change. [17] For these reasons, successful efforts in shifting US climate policy could potentially move the needle on climate change. This, we hope, will ultimately protect millions of the world’s poorest people who are disproportionately affected by the devastating impacts of climate change. Click here to learn more about the relationship between climate change and extreme poverty and The Life You Can Save’s process for selecting effective climate change recommendations.

We recommend Carbon180 because they are recommended by Giving Green and Founders Pledge: evaluators that are equipped to look into numerous climate change charities in-depth and are constantly assessing work being done in the world of climate change. We use their findings to inform our list of highly impactful, cost-effective climate change recommendations.

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