Zurich-based Direct Air Capture (DAC) carbon removal provider Climeworks announced today a new long-term agreement with Lufthansa Group and Lufthansa subsidiary Swiss International Air Lines aimed at addressing the airline’s unavoidable CO2 emissions.

DAC technology, listed by the IEA as a key carbon removal option in the transition to a net-zero energy system, extracts CO2 directly from the atmosphere for use as a raw material or permanently removed when combined with storage. According to the landmark 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate change mitigation study, scenarios that limit warming to 1.5°C include carbon dioxide removal methods scaling to billions of tons of removal annually over the coming decades, with DAC positioned to potentially account for a significant portion of the total.

Founded in 2009 by Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher, Climeworks has emerged as a leading DAC provider. In 2022, the company raised nearly $650 million in an equity funding round aimed at scaling its DAC capacity. The company has since started construction of “Mammoth,” a new 36,000 tonne-capacity DAC facility, which it recently stated was near completion, and it is also participating in a series of large-scale DAC projects chosen receive grants of up to $1.2 billion by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The new agreements mark the DAC provider’s first with airline companies.

Jan Huckfeldt, Chief Commercial Officer of Climeworks said:

“Industries like aviation with hard-to-abate emissions are sometimes unjustifiably confronted with moral hazard questions when investing in carbon removal. It must be cleared up once and for all: no cost-sensitive company will consider high-quality carbon removal without first having exhausted all available CO2 reduction measures. SWISS’ pioneering carbon removal purchase shows their steadfast commitment to making net zero in aviation a reality.”

Lufthansa has set a target to achieve a neutral CO2 balance by 2050, and an ambition to halve its net CO2 emissions by 2030, compared to 2019. While the company’s climate initiatives focus primarily on emissions reductions, such as through scaling the use of sustainable aviation fuel, the company has said that it views carbon removal solutions as “a complementary instrument in its sustainability strategy.”

Under the new agreement, SWISS said that it will leverage carbon removal via direct air capture and storage to address its hard to abate emissions, in addition to offering its customers the opportunity to participate in the DAC carbon removal solution. The agreement extends until 2030, with the option to prolong the collaboration and purchase additional carbon removal volumes in the future.

SWISS CEO Dieter Vranckx said:

“The decision to partner with Climeworks and to purchase its high-quality carbon removal solution reflects our ambition at SWISS to promote key technologies on the journey to net zero. In order to achieve the aviation sector’s targets and the global climate goals, we must rely on a variety of measures – including the rapid scaling of sustainable aviation fuel and carbon removal.”