Request for Proposals: Ocean-Based Carbon Dioxide Removal Analogues

The ClimateWorks Foundation supports research grants to help close key knowledge gaps to advance ocean-based carbon dioxide removal (CDR), and to catalyze public and philanthropic interest in this field of research. Ocean Visions has a multi-pronged program to support accelerated research and development of ocean-based CDR. Together, ClimateWorks Foundation and Ocean Visions seek to award up to two,18-month grants to evaluate the effectiveness and environmental impacts of ocean-based CDR approaches via the study of field-based analogues. Ocean-based CDR analogues are defined as marine settings that remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere via processes that could theoretically be replicated, accelerated, and scaled.

The grant size of a project proposal should not exceed $220,000. However, if there is a compelling reason for this RFP to support one large project (up to $440,000), applicants are invited to make that case in their proposal form.

CONTEXT

To achieve climate targets set out in the Paris Accords, very large quantities of CO2 must be removed from the atmosphere. The ocean is Earth’s largest CO2 sink due to its various natural biological and geochemical processes. Such processes could potentially be replicated, amplified, and scaled in order to sequester atmospheric CO2 faster than would otherwise occur naturally.

Based largely on theoretical work or very small experiments, ocean-based CDR approaches have shown the potential to capture significant amounts of CO2. Ocean Visions’ road maps to accelerate the development and testing of ocean-based CDR approaches have identified the critical role of small, controlled field trials in providing real-world evidence of carbon sequestration potential, environmental co-benefits, and environmental risks. Yet there remain social, legal, and economic barriers that are slowing the initiation of field trials. As a stepping stone, ocean CDR analogues can serve as an opportunity to evaluate efficacies of CDR and environmental impacts of specific approaches.

Ocean-based CDR analogues are defined here as marine settings where the effects of ocean-based CDR approaches can be investigated due to a similarity in the process of carbon capture and storage, which would give insight to the CDR capacity and environmental impacts if that process were accelerated and scaled. Analogues may be nature-based (e.g., natural deposition of macroalgae in deep ocean environments) or a consequence of a historic or present-day anthropogenic activity (e.g., alkalinity flux into the ocean due terrestrial liming).

Projects evaluating CDR in blue carbon ecosystems (mangroves, seagrasses, salt marshes) fall outside the scope of this RFP.

SCOPE OF WORK

Projects should identify a field-based ocean CDR analogue and:

  • Quantify atmospheric CO2 flux into the ocean, and
  • Evaluate environmental co-benefits and environmental risks of the process that removes CO2 from surface waters.

Methods should focus on in-situ observations, however, where data are already available but have not yet been synthesized or incorporated into models to inform CDR effectiveness and environmental impacts, desk research is a possibility as well.

Peer-reviewed scientific publications will ultimately be expected, but by the end of the grant duration (18 months) grantees should be prepared to produce a project summary that addresses the following topics:

  • How the analogue improves our understanding of carbon sequestration, permanence, environmental co-benefits, and environmental risks in that environment.
  • Critical physical, biological, and chemical properties of interest that affect the CDR capacity, environmental co-benefits, and environmental risks of the analogue.
  • Lesson learned from this analogue that could inform the design of controlled, experimental field trials, including measurement tools and data infrastructure needs.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Applicants can be from any country. Applicants must submit a pre-proposal, which will be evaluated by ClimateWorks Foundation and Ocean Visions staff. A subset of applicants will be selected and invited to submit a full proposal. Full proposals will be peer-reviewed by an Advisory Committee selected by Ocean Visions.

Applicants can use this RFP to co-fund and expand the scope of an existing project, as long as that project fulfills the scope of this RFP.

Applicants may submit or be part of more than one pre-proposal.

Application timeline:

11 August 2021, 6:00 PT                    Submission deadline for pre-proposals

25 August 2021                                    Invitations for full proposals sent out

15 September 2021, 17:00 PT           Submission deadline for full proposals

15 October 2021                                  Award decision announced

SUBMIT A PRE-PROPOSAL

Applicants may submit a pre-proposal using this form. Questions may be sent to lydia@ceaconsulting.com.

ABOUT THE FUNDERS

This Request for Proposals is generously supported by funding from the ClimateWorks Foundation Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) Program, and undertaken in partnership with Ocean Visions’ Ocean-Based CDR Program. Among other roles, OV will convene expert review panels as part of the process. ClimateWorks launched the CDR Program in 2018 to catalyze and promote the CDR field. In addition to working on terrestrial carbon dioxide removal issues, the CDR Program supports research to address key scientific gaps as well as major community-building initiatives to bring to light the ocean’s potential role in CO2 removal.