Innovative Approaches to Carbon Capture in Tourism

What is Tomorrow's Air and why is it important for the travel industry?

Christina says that Tomorrow's Air is a collective action initiative for permanent carbon removal and storage in partnership with Climeworks. This allows stakeholders to take direct action and support others.

What is Tomorrow's Air and why is it important for the travel industry?

Christina says that Tomorrow's Air is a collective action initiative for permanent carbon removal and storage in partnership with Climeworks. This allows stakeholders to take direct action and support others. Travel constitutes at least 8% of carbon emissions worldwide, while travel itself brings so many benefits to people, this is a hurdle that must be overcome to reach a long-term sustainable travel industry.

Tomorrow's Air offers various subscription levels for varying amounts of carbon removal schemes accompanied by corporate and destination partnerships. A key piece of Tomorrow's Air is the Artists for Air program that engages creatives in the effort for carbon removal. This is an effort to make understanding carbon removal more accessible due to the alienating nature of knowing all the technicalities.

Currently, some graphic designers and photographers apply to this program, share their art on Instagram, spreading the message of Tomorrow's Air. This provides an opportunity to bring together your destination's culture and give more of a push into caring for the local environment.

Businesses can get involved by contacting Christina directly, developing custom education campaigns allowing for destinations to show their local values and climate action message. Subscriptions for the corporate and destination schemes can be from $8k-$75k a year. Smaller businesses can still apply under individual, cheaper subscriptions. Christina goes on to say that this is the perfect opportunity to take sustainability into your own hands, rather than waiting for the right changes.

How does carbon removal work, currently?

Celine explains that at Climeworks, they have constructed car-sized CO2 collectors with absorbent filters that specifically capture the carbon. The filter is heated to 100°C, releasing the molecules, allowing for the physical collection of CO2.

The removal takes place in Iceland due to the natural volcanic ecosystem acting as accessible storage. It's mixed with water and pumped into the ground, creating rock formations over the course of 2 years.

Christina goes on to say that the objective of Tomorrow's Air alongside Climeworks is to use technology to advance natural processes and that working with Climeworks in particularly has allowed them to sustainably store carbon naturally, not just remove it.

This reformed carbon is tested and used to research aviation fuels and other repurposes.

Challenges and Curiosity

Some people may ask 'why can't we just plant more trees?' Christina explains that yes, of course, trees are taken into account in the fight for environmental sustainability due to the monumental effect of natural carbon storage in them. However, considering the current warmer global scenario that has resulted in longer-lasting wildfire and natural deforestation, tree-driven ideology has become somewhat outdated.

Another question that comes up is expenses, to which Christina argues that an affordable cost is necessary to lower future costs. There are online shopping outlets such as Shopify, which have shown interest in investing in schemes such as Tomorrow's Air that have the potential of scaling costs in the future.

Celine joins in the discussion by wanting to spread the message, this technology is still not well known to a global audience. There are concerns that such technologies actually aren't efficient in carbon removal, to which Celine confirms that Climeworks currently operates at 90% efficiency, which can only improve after convincing the rest of the population of its impact.

What is our responsibility in travel? How much carbon do we need to remove to become carbon neutral/negative?

Travel produces 8% of global carbon emissions, and as such, 4 gigatons of carbon would need to be removed a year. Approximately 2 gigatons would be from transport alone.

Christina explains that this can be achieved through rethinking travel experiences to get on track as soon as possible, working with destinations in setting goals and clean up efforts.

Currently, ATTA is working with plenty of traditional winter destinations to protect the local ecosystem, as keeping a cold climate is essential to these operators, and as such, so is lowering carbon emissions. The vision for Tomorrow's Air is a platform for education, visualised below.

In 40 years, Christina hopes that more companies see the effect of carbon removal and are more invested in various initiatives that only work towards a carbon-negative ecosystem.

Key Takeaways

1. Support the scale-up of carbon removal methods to scale costs by prospective 2050 goals

2. Amplify the effects of current initiatives by getting involved and investing in the future of the environment

Published on:
November 2020
About the contributor

Alice Gifford

Alice’s passion is to foster sustainable lifestyles and environmental and cultural stewardship within the outdoor recreation industry. Having worked as a guide and in adventure travel media, she brought an insider’s perspective to the ATTA at an early stage.

Celine Olesen

Celine Olesen is from Zurich, Switzerland where she works for Climeworks in business development, building relationships with both clients and engineers. Celine is passionate about preserving our natural environment and enabling people to act meaningfully.

Christina Beckmann

Christina is an entrepreneur and new business strategist. At the Adventure Travel Trade Association, she leads interdisciplinary teams on projects to extend the positive benefits of travel. She is also the founder of Tomorrow’s Air, a carbon removal collective.