Sucking up CO2
HQ: San Francisco, CA
The Big Idea
Growing trees is the cheapest way to draw down CO2. Yet, far from planting new trees on net, the planet loses 25 million acres of forest each year to fire, agriculture, harvesting, and pests. As a result of other changes to the climate system, it also appears that forests’ capacity to retain carbon is decreasing. It’s no longer enough to plant new trees. We have to develop trees that grow taller, faster, stronger.
How it Works
Living Carbon uses genetic engineering to improve how trees break down a toxic byproduct of photosynthesis, conserving more energy for growing. They also dial up the assimilation of certain metals, heightening resistance to fungal decomposition. The result is carbon-guzzling, photosynthesis-enhanced trees that grow 30-54% faster while producing more drought- and rot-resistant wood.
Their seedlings grow into more valuable wood products that can be harvested years sooner than typical plants. Their growth rate shortens the path to profitability of timberland by 2-5 years, resulting in a 50% revenue increase over a 20 year period. In the process, they double the CO2 uptake and sequestration capacity of managed forests, unlocking new upside revenue from carbon markets.
Gigatons of CO2e
potentially removed annually
MADDIE HALL CEO & CO-FOUNDER
Maddie previously led special projects at Open AI and before that at Y Combinator. Maddie has also spent a year as a scout at Sequoia Capital.
PATRICK MELLOR CTO & CO-FOUNDER
Patrick is a botanist and paleo-biologist focused on near-term carbon drawdown solutions.
A Bold Idea to Stall the Climate Crisis by—Building Better TreesWIRED
Why Maddie Hall Is Building Genetically Modified Trees to Absorb Carbon Dioxide FasterForbes
Optimizing Biology for Large Scale of CO2 DrawdownForesight Institute
Living CarbonMy Climate Journey Podcast