Antti Vihavainen is certain. He is sure that hope alone will not solve the climate crisis. For Antti, hope must always be accompanied by action if a true impact is to be made. It is on this firm belief that his company, Puro.earth, was founded in 2018. Ever since, Puro.earth has been actively expanding the tech-based carbon removals sector with a carbon crediting program dedicated to engineered carbon removal.
Engineered carbon removal differs from nature-based carbon removal. Rather than investing in natural carbon sinks, such as forests and soil, engineered carbon removal uses technology to draw and store greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Methods including carbon capture and storage (CCS) and direct air capture (DAC) store the emissions they remove securely, often in vast underground geologic formations.
In the past five years, Puro.earth has validated the technological removal activities of more than 50 companies and facilitated the sale of verified credits to corporate stakeholders to support their decarbonisation strategies. Here, Antti shares his motivations and reveals how Puro.earth is scaling the engineered carbon removal market.
Can you introduce yourself and explain why you decided to found Puro.earth?
In 2017, it became apparent to me. I realised the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) was already too high. Although I’ve always been interested in the climate, this was a pivotal moment for me. I realised that our emissions reduction efforts were simply not fast enough and that humanity faced an unprecedented, runaway climate catastrophe.
Yet, there was something else I recognised. While emissions soared, more and more research was being conducted into technological methods for removing carbon from the atmosphere. But something was missing – these engineered climate solutions were not being sufficiently commercialised. With the climate crisis at our door, I wanted to explore the commercialisation of tech-based carbon removal with the aim of facilitating the growth of new, net-negative carbon industries. So in 2018, I co-founded Puro.earth, the first carbon crediting program focused exclusively on technology-driven carbon removals.
Could you say more on the problem you seek to solve?
Puro.earth solves the very same issues that first drew me to the world of engineered carbon removal. With such extensive research into these technologies, I had identified a real need for commercialisation. So, first and foremost, Puro.earth is a platform dedicated to harmonising the climate effects of different carbon removal methods. In this way, Puro.earth assists in the overall scaling of engineered carbon removal. We want to help the removals market grow in efficiency and enable more companies to embark on a science-based pathway to reach a state of net-zero emissions.
Since we launched, Puro.earth has pioneered several of the world’s first crediting methodologies for engineered carbon removal. While we bring together a range of removal activities, our criteria always remains the same. We look for methods which can be scientifically verified; that durably capture and store CO2 for 100+ years and which have the potential to scale industrially. We believe that in facilitating corporate engagement with engineered carbon removal, we can drive the development of a strong, carbon net-negative economy. It’s our aim to galvanise further investment in these technologies.
Let’s get technical: How does your product work?
Our Puro.earth platform brings together suppliers of carbon net-negative technologies and climate-conscious companies. We have developed our own Puro Standard with which to verify CO2 Removal Certificates (CORCs). Each CORC represents one tonne of CO2 that has been removed from the atmosphere via an engineered method and stored long-term in carbon net-negative processes or products.
We are particularly proud of our Puro Standard for it is the first to assess carbon credits generated exclusively from such tech-based removal activities. The methodologies of the Puro Standard are science-based and durable, meaning that companies can depend on them for precise emission compensation. To maintain independence, the Puro Standard is managed by an Advisory Board which oversees any proposed changes to its rules and requirements.
On our platform, buyers can browse the available tech-based carbon removal suppliers and explore purchase options. However, buyers do not purchase CORCs through Puro.earth. Instead they negotiate an agreement directly with an accredited CORC supplier or via our network of carbon marketplaces connected to our registry. CORCs can either be bought as a spot purchase or as an advance market commitment. In the latter, the buyer agrees to purchase CORCs that will be verified in the future. Known as Pre-CORCs, these are certificates that allow companies to pre-pay for validated projections of engineered CO2 removal. Only after such a carbon removal has been independently verified are Pre-CORCs converted into CORCs.
Can you share a story of success?
In the five years since our launch, we have grown to be the world’s leading crediting platform for engineered carbon removal. Now, more than 50 companies have issued CORCs and are selling them directly to corporations or via the carbon marketplaces connected to our registry.
It is hard to choose just one story of success because throughout 2023 we have formed numerous partnerships and made agreements with other companies in the engineered removals space! In July, we announced our CORCs would be available on Xpansiv’s CBL Spot Exchange platform, while in September we signed an agreement with the carbon capture company, Climeworks. Moreover, we are working to develop Africa’s first DAC facility with Octavia Carbon and Cella. We consider such collaborations to be essential in the expansion of the tech-based removals market.
And finally, what’s next for Puro.earth?
There’s so much innovation happening within the climate space that we are constantly impressed with the suggestions we are given the opportunity to assess. Amid so much fast-paced transformation, we expect to jump one order of magnitude in the next 18 months and make a second leap by 2027.