With a $20M incentive, Carbon XPRIZE takes aim at climate change

With a $20M incentive, Carbon XPRIZE takes aim at climate change

Unless you’ve been camping out under a rock for the last decade, you probably know that we’re totally destroying the Earth. We of wanton use of fossil fuels and reluctance to buy into change en masse are driving the single biggest crisis that faces our planet, and the folks behind the just-announced NRG COSIA Carbon Xprize are looking to help save us from ourselves.

The Carbon Xprize will challenge teams to harness carbon dioxide output from coal and natural gas power plants and transform it into something that is valuable, effectively incentivizing governments and the open market to become invested in solutions that make a big and necessary step towards cutting carbon emissions. That’s the legacy of Xprize, really. For the better part of twenty years, Xprize has been putting up money and calling upon global thinkers to solve global problems.

“Xprize, in a nutshell, is about looking at the world’s grand challenges…the big, thorny problems,” says Dr. Paul Bunje, Xprize Program Director for Energy and the Environment. “There are few challenges on the planet more urgent than CO2-driven climate change…If you look at the science of adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, you get his exponential curve of warming,” says Bunje. “So, as much as you can do as soon as possible reduces by a similar exponent the amount of impact that we might expect to see…that’s the urgency: it’s quite literally ‘do everything you can, as soon as you can.’”

As the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in late November approaches, the stage seems to be set for an increase of focus on the global issue, and that’s exactly what the Carbon Xprize aims to do. The problem is hulking, growing and urgent, and by effectively crowd sourcing the research and development process, Xprize hopes to expedite change. “We want to accelerate the coming of different carbon solutions as rapidly as we possibly can,” says Bunje.

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