XPrize’s $20m carbon recycling award aims to cut fossil fuel emissions

The idea of capturing carbon emissions and turning it into something valuable has long intrigued scientists, businesses, politicians and environmentalists alike. But it’s never proven economically viable. Could the XPrize change that?

Given the threat of climate change, what should the world do with its reserves of fossil fuels? Some say keep it in the ground. Others say fossil fuels are needed to in order to provide electricity to the poorest areas of the world.

With the announcement Tuesday of its new $20m Carbon XPrize, the non-profit XPrize Foundation is taking a middle ground – launching a competition to find new uses for carbon dioxide (CO2) , the greenhouse gas emitted by coal and natural gas plants. It’s intended to allow the continued burning of fossil fuels while reducing or eliminating their climate impact.

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Lock-in: how today’s oil drilling fuels tomorrows political and economic problems

As Obama opens the Arctic for oil drilling, is he also making it harder for America to wean itself from its dependence on fossil fuels?

Earlier this month, the fossil fuel economy was confronted with two stark reality checks. The first, a scientific study on the effects of fuel combustion, showed that if we burned all the fossil fuels in the world, roughly 10 trillion tons of carbon would be released, causing global temperatures to soar. The Antarctic ice sheet would melt, the study reported, releasing enough water to raise global sea levels by 58 meters. The effects would be felt for millennia.

The same day that the fossil fuel study came out, Goldman Sachs warned that the oil market is “even more oversupplied than we had expected”, and that the oil surplus is likely to continue in 2016.

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