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BMO First Bank to Pre-Purchase Direct Air Capture Carbon Removals using Carbon Engineering technology

November 24, 2021 | Sustainability

BMO Financial Group announced it has pre-purchased the permanent removal of 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology. The purchase was facilitated via London-based climate solutions business BeZero Carbon, and the carbon removal is planned to be delivered by a large-scale facility utilizing Canadian company Carbon Engineering‘s (CE) DAC technology.

This news builds on BMO’s membership in the Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA), a global network of 94 banks from 39 countries. That global sustainability-focused banking initiative reinforces member banks’ commitment to help finance the climate transition and support public and private sector collaboration to reach net zero by 2050. Members who join the alliance sign a commitment to take a robust approach to the role of offsets in transition plans. According to the NZBA Commitment Statement, this means chosen offsets should be restricted to carbon removals and deployed to balance residual emissions when viable options to eliminate the emission are limited.

“As part of our Climate Ambition and our Purpose to Boldly Grow the Good, in business and life, BMO is committed to net zero in our own operations and to being our clients’ lead partner in their transition to a net zero future,” said Michael Torrance, Chief Sustainability Officer, BMO Financial Group. “We’re pleased to be working with BeZero and Carbon Engineering on high-integrity, large scale climate solutions such as Direct Air Capture, and to be the first bank to do so. By doing so we’re supporting the growth of a new market for Direct Air Capture and associated offsets, which will be critical for achieving ambitious Paris aligned 1.5C goals and going past net zero to being net negative GHG emissions.”

To help organizations, like BMO, evaluate offsetting options, BeZero gives customers access to its BeZero Carbon Rating (BCR) Framework. The BCR brings heightened transparency and quality assessment to solutions available in the voluntary market with an evidence-based, risk assessment of the efficacy of industry accredited carbon removal and offset solutions. It does this by assigning ratings that span AAA+ to A, taking several risk factors into consideration, including permanence, additionality, and over-crediting. CE’s DAC technology is the only solution to qualify for the highest AAA+ rating.

“Carbon removal technology such as Direct Air Capture needs early adopter customers to accelerate deployment scale,” said CEO of BeZero Carbon, Tommy Ricketts. “This purchase by BMO is a landmark moment for the future of Direct Air Capture, and a strong signal to the market that this technology should become a critical part of net zero infrastructure.”

Carbon dioxide removal through DAC with permanent geologic storage delivers the physical removal of carbon dioxide from the air, essentially reversing the emissions process. By decoupling the capture of carbon dioxide from the source of the emission, it can be used to counteract any carbon dioxide emission, from anywhere in the world and from any point in time. This provides customers with an effective, verifiable tool that has the potential to address their most difficult sources of emissions, as well as a reliable way to remove emissions from the past.

“The world is witnessing an overwhelming, and necessary, surge in net-zero commitments,” said Carbon Engineering’s CEO, Steve Oldham. “At the same time, it’s critical to form and uphold transparent, science-based standards for meeting these commitments and we’re pleased to see industry leaders, like BeZero Carbon and BMO, working together to do this. Solutions, like Carbon Engineering’s Direct Air Capture technology, are feasible and available today to support businesses and governments in their sustainability plans to meet these commitments.”

BMO’s carbon removal units are pre-purchased, reserving capacity as development of DAC facilities is ongoing. The first commercial facility to utilize CE’s DAC technology is targeted to be operational in 2024. It is being developed in the US by 1PointFive and is expected to capture up to one million tonnes of atmospheric carbon dioxide annually.

One of the first major Canadian banks to sign the UN Principles for Responsible Banking, BMO is committed to supporting the advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement. BMO is a member of UNEP-FI and signatory of the Principles for Responsible Banking, serves as North American representative on the Steering Committee of the Equator Principles and is Chair of the Cross-Sector Biodiversity Initiative. BMO is a member of the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF) and the Net Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA), which recognises the vital role of banks in supporting the global transition of the real economy to net-zero emissions.

Carbon neutral since 2010, BMO announced its Climate Ambition in March 2021 with a commitment to deploy $300 billion in sustainable lending and underwriting to companies pursuing sustainable outcomes by 2025. Since December 2019, BMO has completed sustainability and green financing frameworks, green and sustainability-linked loans for companies in a range of sectors, from manufacturing and packaging to metals & mining and energy. To support clients’ pursuit of opportunities driven by the increasing momentum of the global economy’s shift in production and consumption of energy, this year BMO established a dedicated Energy Transition Group and the BMO Climate Institute.

BMO’s leadership on sustainability has been recognized on numerous rankings, including the Wall Street Journal’s 100 Most Sustainably Managed Companies in the World, the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices World Index, and Ethisphere Institute’s list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies.

Learn more about sustainable finance at BMO and BMO’s climate ambition.

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