Traditional carbon offsets are typically a trade of avoided emissions: someone reduces emissions on behalf of the offset buyer who pays for the other party’s emissions reduction (= avoidance certificates). Thereby, the offset buyer continues emitting. If done in a transparent way, this trade will at best result in a short-term emissions reduction but not lead to the zero and negative emissions that we need to deliver to keep global warming in check.
In contrast, Climeworks’ carbon dioxide removal service physically removes emissions from the air, which actively lowers the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. The CO2 is locked away and remains permanently stored for thousands of years. Climeworks’ solution is therefore radically different from trading avoided emissions.