Elon Musk launches $100M prize for carbon removal to fight climate change

Elon Musk and the Musk Foundation has announced a four-year global competition, inviting innovators and teams to demonstrate a solution that can pull carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or oceans and store it away permanently.

To reach the Paris Agreements goal of limiting the Earth’s temperature rise to no more than 1.50 (c) of pre-industrial levels, we need bold, innovative tech solutions beyond limiting the CO2 emission but eliminates it from the air and the oceans. The world's leading scientists estimate that we may need to remove as much as 6 gigatons of CO2 per year by 2030, and 10 gigatons per year by 2050 to avoid the worst effects of climate change. If humanity continues on a business-as-usual path, the global average temperature could increase 6˚(C) by the year 2100. 

The competition will run for four years, and teams from all over the planet are welcome to compete for the grand prize.

“Solutions will be scientifically evaluated across multiple criteria such as; the amount of CO2 removed, life cycle analysis of the removal process, energy efficiency, land footprint and sequestration capabilities.” Said the organizers.

“Any carbon-negative solution is eligible: nature-based, direct air capture, oceans, mineralization, or anything else that sequesters CO2 permanently.”

“We want teams to build real systems that can make a measurable impact at a gigaton level.” Said Musk. “Whatever it takes. Time is of the essence.”

Team registration will open on the announcement of the full competition guidelines on Earth Day, April 22nd 2021.

“To win the competition, teams must demonstrate a rigorous, validated scale model of their carbon removal solution, and further must demonstrate to a team of judges the ability of their solution to economically scale to gigaton levels.” Said the organizers.

The teams will be required to produce a  working carbon removal prototype that can be rigorously validated and capable of removing at least 1 ton per day. The primary metric for this competition is fully considered cost per ton. A minimum goal of 100 years is desired.

After 18 months, the jury will select 15 teams, who will receive $1 million at this stage to develop their prototype. The winning team at the end of the four years will receive a grand prize of 50M.

There are also twenty-five $200,000 student scholarships up for grabs.



Elon Musk co-founded and leads Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company.

As the co-founder and CEO of Tesla, Elon leads all product design, engineering and global manufacturing of the company's electric vehicles, battery products and solar energy products.