Microsoft Signs its First Ocean-Based Carbon Removal Agreement
Ocean health company Running Tide announced an agreement with tech giant Microsoft for ocean-based carbon dioxide removal, using technology that accelerates the ocean’s ability to naturally remove CO2, and to permanently sink it to the deep ocean.
Under the new agreement, Running Tide will remove 12,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (C02e) on behalf of Microsoft.
Carbon removal is emerging as a key tool in the fight to address climate change, although most technologies and solutions to capture and store carbon from the atmosphere remain at fairly early stages. According to the landmark IPCC climate change mitigation study released last year, scenarios that limit warming to 1.5°C include carbon dioxide removal (CDR) methods scaling to billions of tons of removal annually over the coming decades.
Launched in 2017, Running Tide designs and implements interventions that rebalance the carbon cycle, decarbonize global supply chains, restore marine ecosystems, and revitalize coastal communities. The company is designing and implementing an Ocean Carbon Removal system aimed at amplifying and verifying multiple natural carbon removal pathways. The company uses natural processes such as photosynthesis and ocean alkalinity enhancement to fix carbon from the fast carbon cycle, and utilizes low energy mass transfer techniques to sink the carbon in the deep ocean for safe long-term storage in the slow carbon cycle.
Supporting and utilizing carbon removal forms part of Microsoft’s initiative to become carbon negative by 2030, and to remove all of its historical emissions by 2050. Microsoft recently announced an agreement with Direct Air Capture (DAC) startup Climeworks to permanently remove 10,000 tons of CO2 emissions.
The company’s agreement with Microsoft also includes innovations focused on innovations to ensure effective measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV). According to Running Tide, the ocean-based CDR market still in very early stages and lacks third-party certifications. Microsoft, as a leading buyer of carbon removal, has built into the agreement stage gates enabling quality assurance. As an example, Running Tide said that larger purchases of carbon removal will be unlocked by improvements in the quality of the MRV system.
Phillip Goodman, Director, Carbon Removal Portfolio at Microsoft, said:
“Supporting innovative solutions is part of Microsoft’s carbon removal strategy. Running Tide’s dedication towards continued improvements in ocean-based MRV systems aligns with Microsoft’s pursuit of innovative CDR projects, and we look forward to Running Tide’s further development of the ocean-based carbon removal space.”
Running Tide CEO Marty Odlin added:
“This agreement represents a joint investment in an abundant future: both in removing a significant amount of carbon while restoring ocean health for future generations. Our deal develops the system and technologies needed to responsibly steward our natural resources and to further our knowledge of and connectivity to the ocean.”