Not all carbon-capture projects pay off for the climate – we mapped the pros and cons of each and found clear winners and losers

Capturing carbon dioxide from the air or industries and recycling it can sound like a win-win climate solution. The greenhouse gas stays out of the atmosphere where it can warm the planet, and it avoids the use of more fossil fuels.

But not all carbon-capture projects offer the same economic and environmental benefits. In fact, some can actually worsen climate change.

Carbon plays a crucial role in many parts of our lives. Materials such as fertilizer, aviation fuel, textiles, detergents and much more depend on it. But years of research and the climate changes the world is already experiencing have made abundantly clear that humanity needs to urgently end the use of fossil fuels and remove the excess CO₂ from the atmosphere and oceans that have resulted from their use.

Some carbon materials can be replaced with carbon-free alternatives, such as using renewable energy to produce electricity. However, for other uses, such as aviation fuel or plastics, carbon will be harder to replace. For these, technologies are being developed to capture and recycle carbon.

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