Jim Mann, the founder of the enhanced rock weathering company UNDO, is utilizing basalt rock to help combat climate change. Enhanced rock weathering is a process that accelerates the natural weathering of basalt, which removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. UN scientists emphasize the need for carbon dioxide removal in addition to reducing emissions to prevent dangerous levels of warming. While tree planting is a natural method of carbon capture, it has limitations. Direct Air Capture mechanically removes CO2 from the atmosphere but requires significant energy. Enhanced rock weathering strikes a balance between natural and man-made approaches, enhancing the carbon removal process. By spreading basalt rock on fields, local farmers not only help remove carbon but also benefit from improved crop yields and grazing quality. UNDO plans to scale up operations, and Microsoft has committed to funding the scattering of basalt on UK fields. However, the scalability and energy requirements of the process remain challenges. Nonetheless, enhanced rock weathering has the potential to become a standard practice in agriculture, contributing to carbon removal alongside other land uses. UNDO aims to spread 185,000 tonnes of basalt this year and remove a million tonnes of CO2 by 2025, although it remains a small contribution compared to global emissions.
Photo Credit: Winggo Tse