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SUEZ and first climate announce biochar carbon removal contract with Microsoft at Viva Technology

  • SUEZ and first climate announce biochar carbon removal contract with Microsoft at Viva Technology
    Credit: Pablo González-Cebrián/SWM
  • Three-year agreement covers delivery of 36,000 removal credits supplied from large-scale Carbonity, a Canadian joint venture co-owned by SUEZ, Airex Energy, and Groupe Rémabec.
  • Biochar produced from residues has been identified by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as one of the best and most effective negative emissions solutions.
  • Microsoft and SUEZ consider further collaboration in climate action.

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SUEZ
As an expert in water and waste for 150 years that is present on the 5 continents, SUEZ harnesses all its capacity for innovation to work for the efficient and sustainable management of resources.

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Today, at the VivaTech event in Paris, industrial biochar producer Carbonity and carbon asset manager First Climate have announced the signing of a forward contract with Microsoft regarding the delivery of carbon dioxide removal credits. The contract is set for a volume of 36,000 tons of carbon credits to be issued and delivered within the next three years.

The credits supplied will be generated by the Carbonity project, a joint venture between SUEZ, a global leader in environmental services, Airex Energy, an innovative leader in developing world-class decarbonization solutions, and Groupe Rémabec, the largest private forestry operator in the province of Quebec, Canada. The joint venture partners will begin operations at their Carbonity facility in Quebec by the end of 2024 with an expected annual production capacity starting at 10,000 tons of biochar. Produced from forest and agricultural residues, biochar is recognized to provide several benefits. When applied to soil, as one of the more common end-uses, the carbon contained in the biochar is permanently stored, making it an efficient carbon sink while at the same time providing substantial benefits improving soil properties and cultivation performance.

In its carbon asset management role, Germany-based First Climate is Carbonity’s partner for the administration and marketing of carbon removal credits. Having already developed a methodology to monitor and measure the climate impact of biochar in 2018, First Climate is one of the pioneers of this carbon removal technology. With this experience, the company supports Carbonity with the MRV processes (Monitoring, Reporting and Verification) relevant to the certification of the project under the voluntary carbon removal standard and registry Puro.earth. First Climate is also responsible for the marketing of the credits issued by the project.

“At First Climate, we are very excited about this collaboration with Microsoft, which will help further develop and scale the still nascent biochar market and help us tap into its full climate potential and benefits,” says First Climate’s CEO Olaf Bachert. “This is crucial, especially since carbon removal technologies such as biochar will play an increasingly important role in the global fight against climate change in general and in corporate climate action in particular.”

“We’re very pleased to announce this deal with First Climate and the whole Carbonity team. As we move to scale carbon removals, in connection with our goal of being carbon negative by 2030, biochar stands out as a promising medium for affordable carbon removal products, durable for centuries and with co-benefits to agriculture and local communities. At Microsoft, we are excited when we see experienced infrastructure players like SUEZ entering the carbon removal market,” said Brian Marrs, Senior Director for Energy and Carbon Removal at Microsoft.

The contract is set for a volume of 36,000 tons of carbon credits to be issued and delivered within the next three years

With its large scale and the established companies forming the joint venture, Carbonity is to date one of the few carbon removal projects worldwide that can deliver high volumes of removal credits. The biochar project is expected to increase the supply of carbon removals and biochar in the long term and to have a lasting impact on advancing the development of the global market for carbon removals.

“COP28 has reaffirmed the unavoidable need to combine efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration. Thanks to our groundbreaking biochar facility currently under construction in Canada, SUEZ is delighted to provide Microsoft with a resilient and innovative carbon capture solution. We are looking forward to further enabling companies to drive their decarbonization in line with our climate commitment in our sustainable development roadmap,” declared Sabrina Soussan, Chairman and CEO of SUEZ.

SUEZ recently announced the acquisition of a minority stake in its biochar partner, Airex Energy. Together, both companies aim to replicate the model globally with relevant biomass residue partners. Their goal is to operate a total production capacity of 350,000 tons of biochar per year by 2035 using Airex Energy's technology which is one of the most developed at this scale today.

"On behalf of the shareholders, I am pleased to see Microsoft choosing Carbonity for its carbon removal credits. This collaboration underscores the great potential of Carbonity, a project that not only advances sustainable carbon removal solutions in Canada but also highlights the biochar production capabilities established at our Port-Cartier plant. With partners like SUEZ and Groupe Rémabec, we are setting new standards in carbon sequestration for North America." — Michel Gagnon, Chairman of the Board of Carbonity and CEO of Airex Energy.

Microsoft and SUEZ emphasized the possibility of expanding their partnership to support future carbon removal projects in development beyond the Carbonity contract duration.

“I’m extremely enthusiastic about this collaboration with First Climate and SUEZ. It is a testimony of the dynamism of the French and European ecosystems when it comes to finding solutions to the environmental crisis we face. This project is also a significant milestone in the acceleration of our global collaboration with SUEZ on leveraging digital capabilities to boost carbon, water and waste solutions,” said Corine de Bilbao, President of Microsoft France.

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