The Road to 10 Gigatons: A Carbon Removal Scale-Up Game

Scale up carbon removal solutions and build up intuition for consequences and implications

I’m excited to share a project I’ve been working on for the last several months: The Road to 10 Gigatons. This was a collaboration with my friends Cassandra Xia, co-founder of the Work on Climate community, and Maxwell Pisciotta, a chemical engineering Ph.D. student at UPenn with a research focus on carbon capture technologies.

Our goal in building this game is to help people develop an intuition for what it actually means to scale up different carbon removal solutions to gigaton scale by tracking the effects on land use, energy use, cost, and other more qualitative consequences. A lot of times in carbon removal discussions people throw around claims such as “why not just plant a lot of trees” or “we can solve climate change with lots of DAC”, and our hope is that the game will illustrate many of the implicit assumptions baked into such massive scale-ups of any single solution. We hope that people will play around with different combinations of CDR approaches and compare the vastly different consequences possible depending on the portfolio of solutions selected.

The underlying model used in the game is inevitably filled with rough approximations and our own assumptions that we do our best to spell out in this accompanying document. We tried to pull relevant numbers and values (like cost/ton or land used/ton of a given solution) from the scientific literature, but we often saw different sources give estimates that varied by several orders of magnitude. Thus, the game should be used for education and science communication purposes and to help build understanding for the broad challenges involved with scaling CDR solutions. It’s not intended for rigorous academic or scientific modeling purposes. 

We’d love your feedback on the game - whether on the user (player) experience or your thoughts on the model behind the simulation. Feel free to send me a note at johnlsanchez@gmail.com. Once again, you can find the game at www.roadto10gigatons.com. Feel free to share with anyone you think might enjoy learning about carbon removal in an interactive way!