You might be wondering: Is carbon dioxide removal (CDR) merely a distraction from other climate solutions? Why not focus entirely on decarbonization if we're serious about tackling climate change? And doesn’t CDR simply enable big polluters to continue emitting?

I’m Silvan Aeschlimann – I’m a CDR Advisor at RMI's startup accelerator, Third Derivative, RMI's former Direct Air Capture and Storage Lead, and the creator of's CDR technologies and risks course.

Those were just a few of the critical questions I've encountered over the years from individuals deeply concerned about climate change but curious about my decision to dedicate my career to CDR.

And the reality is emissions reductions alone will not be sufficient to achieve the world’s climate goals.

While we must do all we can to drastically reduce global emissions, the world will still need billions of tons of CDR annually by 2050. This is a matter of consensus among major climate-focused groups – from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Every bit helps, which is why scientific consensus has deemed CDR indispensable alongside significant emission reductions to avert the worst impacts of climate change.

Concerns around CDR are valid – it is no silver bullet. Neither is any specific CDR approach a silver bullet. We are going to need to deploy an entire portfolio of CDR solutions alongside massive emission reduction efforts if we want to solve climate change. Most importantly, we are going to need to deploy it well, to ensure not only the climate but also local communities benefit from deploying CDR.

Used correctly, carbon dioxide removal is a powerful tool and will need to fulfill three critical roles that cannot be accomplished by emissions reductions:

  • Reducing net emissions during the decarbonization transition, to avoid temperature overshoot before 2050
  • Counteracting continued emissions after the decarbonization transition from activities that are very expensive or technically infeasible to mitigate, like some forms of agriculture and aviation, as well as emissions from wildfires, and permafrost melt, as those potentially worsen.
  • Removing historical emissions after achieving net zero, to address any temperature overshoot that has occurred.

Think of it as building an industry the size of oil and gas in reverse. We took the CO2 out of the ground, now it's time to put it back. To do so, we will need people from a lot of different disciplines, engineers, data scientists, entrepreneurs, and many more.

As an economist by training, I faced a steep learning curve when I transitioned into the climate and CDR sectors. I created the Carbon Removal Technologies and Risks course with for anyone looking to transition their career into CDR. From my experience, I assure you, the effort is well worth it. The industry is still in its nascent stages and still holds uncharted territory that’s filled with opportunities for pioneering work and incredible impact.

In my course, we will dive deep into the CDR solution portfolio and explore what it means to deploy these solutions effectively. We start with the basics: the necessity of CDR, and its role within the broader climate solution spectrum, and then have a closer look at the specific CDR approaches, highlighting their distinct advantages and risks. By the end of this course, you will be equipped not only with persuasive arguments for engaging in CDR but also with the in-depth knowledge required to make a meaningful contribution.