At Bloomberg View Leonid Bershdisky touts the advantages of carbon extraction over electric vehicles:
Carbon Engineering is a company co-founded by Harvard physicist David Keith and funded, among others, by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Since 2015, the firm has been running a CO2 extraction plant in Canada, testing out a technology that was until recently rejected as too costly. Keith and his collaborators, who wrote the paper, have used an independent cost assessment to calculate that using the process they developed allows the capture of a metric ton of carbon dioxide at the cost of $94 to $232, depending on variable costs such as the price of natural gas. (Since energy is used in the process, about 0.9 tons of CO2 is actually removed from the atmosphere with each ton captured).
That is far lower than previous estimates for the technology, ranging from $550 to $1,300 per ton. The paper’s authors explain that the reduction comes from simply using industrial equipment already available on the market without much customization, a strategy they put in place at the Canadian plant.
At Keith’s prices, investing in CO2 capture can be a better idea both for consumers and for the environment than car electrification. According to the International Energy Agency, increasing the number of electric cars on the road from the current 2 million to 280 million by 2040 will only displace 1 percent of the expected global CO2 emissions, largely because other demand for carbon-based energy, including from planes and ships, will push emissions up – and because electricity to power the giant electric vehicle fleet won’t come entirely from clean sources. To achieve this unimpressive result, carmakers have already pledged some $90 billion in EV investment, and that’s not counting the cost of the ubiquitous infrastructure necessary to give EVs mass appeal, the investment needed to expand power generation and network capacity and the government subsidies to electric car buyers.
Even better: energy provided by small scale modular thorium nuclear reactors and carbon capture and ending the subsidies to alternative energy, electric vehicles, and oil production.