UM report: Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region holds hundreds of billions in carbon management revenue potential

ANN ARBOR—A combination of natural features and engineering innovations are among the reasons the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region is uniquely positioned to become a global hub for carbon capture, utilization and storage, a landmark report finds.

The new report, conducted by the University of Michigan’s Global CO2 Initiative, finds 52 gigatons (a gigaton equals one billion tons) of environmentally sound, high-quality carbon storage is possible regionwide by 2050. This storage capacity could generate $783 billion for the region due to the demands of the global carbon markets through voluntary carbon offset programs. What’s more, captured carbon can be used to manufacture many types of products from building materials to fuel, or it can be stored in underground geologic formations.

The report, titled “Positioning the Great Lakes Region as a Leader in the Voluntary Carbon Offset Market,” is available at this link. The region’s abundant forests, agricultural lands and industrial sector have long been drivers of the regional and national economies. Significant geologic formations, combined with trees and other natural climate solutions, make the region a potential global hub for carbon management and high-quality carbon offsets as well as products that utilize waste carbon dioxide as a feedstock.

The Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers, a coalition of governors of the Great Lakes States and the Canadian Premiers of Ontario and Québec, requested this report for its Great Lakes Impact Investment Platform Research Series.

Globally, governments, corporations and others may seek up to 10 gigatons of carbon removal every year through 2050, and 20 gigatons annually from 2050 to 2100. The Great Lakes St. Lawrence region produces approximately 1.5 gigatons of carbon emissions annually, which means that 100% of the region’s emissions can be stored locally, and there is additional storage potential that could create new regional revenues and positive environmental benefits through global carbon markets. The U-M report includes recommendations to maximize this opportunity for economic growth and innovation in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence region.

“The Global CO2 Initiative identified and quantified options for the Great Lakes region to bolster the voluntary carbon markets. An interdisciplinary team assessed nature-based solutions like planting trees and explored engineered solutions including concrete and biochar with exciting conclusions for the amount of CO2 that can be stored and the potential for new revenues. To solve the climate problem, we need to explore every option. Making our region a go-to for additional highly verified carbon offsets will have positive environmental outcomes and a positive impact on jobs,” said Volker Sick, director of the Global CO2 Initiative at the University of Michigan.

“The global market for carbon storage and offsets is growing quickly. This report explains the scale of this opportunity for our region—equating to hundreds of billions of dollars. We look forward to using the findings of this report to benefit our region and our people,” said David Naftzger, executive director of the Conference of Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers.

GCI’s mission is to get CO2 capture and use recognized and implemented as a main-stream climate solution. This requires leading and accelerating the world in building a marketplace to capture and transform CO2 into commercially sustainable products. As a global umbrella organization, GCI convenes and accelerates research, development and deployment by working with research organizations (academic, government, and commercial) and funding sources (institutional, government, and commercial) throughout the world.

The Conference of Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers launched the Great Lakes Impact Investment Platform with The Nature Conservancy and the University of Michigan’s Center for Digital Asset Finance and the School for Environment and Sustainability. The Platform was created to help position the region as a global destination for investments that boost climate resilience, reduce emissions, and create other benefits.

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