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  • Ryan Wittler

Guidelines for “XPRIZE Carbon Removal” Will Be Announced Today


XPRIZE Carbon Removal is a four-year global competition aimed at tackling the biggest existential threat mankind faces today: climate change. Elon Musk and The Musk Foundation have put up $100 million to fund the competition, a record for any incentive prize in history.

The competition:

Teams from around the world are invited to compete for a $50 million grand prize. To win, they’ll have to create and demonstrate solutions that can pull carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or oceans, locking away CO2 in an environmentally-unharmful way. Any carbon-negative solution is eligible, but it must have the ability to scale, ultimately being able to remove gigaton levels (one gigaton = one billion tons) of carbon dioxide.

After one year of competition, the judges will review all submissions and award 15 teams “Milestone Prizes” of $1 million each. Another $5 million will go to student teams to fund either their full participation in the main competition, or technology they develop that may not directly remove CO2, but will enable its removal. The ultimate winner will be chosen from the group of 15 in 2025.

Why it matters:

To engage in an oversimplification on par with Director Hayward’s, we need to get rid of CO2 in our atmosphere. More specifically, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that we need to reach a rate of removing as much as 10 gigatons of atmospheric CO2 per year by 2050 to avoid the worst effects of climate change. The 2016 Paris Agreement also set a goal of limiting the Earth’s temperature rise to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Currently, we’re on track to see global temperatures rise as much as 6°C by 2100. Needless to say, we’re rooting for whoever takes home the grand prize.

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