Bio-engineering trees for better CO2 storage
Nature-based solutions are central to staying within the 1.5 degrees of the Paris Climate Agreement. The agreement even refers to and encourages human intervention to enhance the natural sinks of greenhouse gases. Forests account for the drawdown of billions of tons of CO2 each year, so when Living Carbon shared their ambition to genetically engineer trees to grow faster, it was a definitive 'yes' for EQT Foundation.
About the solution
Growing trees is the cheapest way to draw down CO2. Yet, the planet loses 25 million acres of forest each year to fire, agriculture, harvesting, and pests. As a result of other changes to the climate system, it also appears that forests’ capacity to retain carbon is decreasing.
Living Carbon is a research lab dedicated to enhancing biological carbon sequestration using the inherent power of plants. The company uses genetic engineering to create enhanced trees that grow more durable wood, faster, resulting in greater carbon capture over the tree’s lifetime. Additionally, the trees naturally absorb more minerals from the soil that slow their decomposition (preventing the release of carbon) and help them thrive in soil that otherwise wouldn’t support forest stands. This way, they will live longer and draw down even more carbon. All of this is achieved without any kind of harmful chemicals
Living Carbons seedlings can be harvested years sooner than typical plants, shortening the path to profitability of timberland. For landowners, this results in a direct increase in revenue in addition to an increased sequestration capacity of managed forests, unlocking new upside revenue from carbon markets.
The characteristics of their trees make them not just extremely helpful in climate change mitigation, but also economically attractive to the forestry industry since their wood is ready for harvest much sooner. Living Carbon’s trees will help the environment while improving the profitability of its partners, making them a scalable, nature-based solution.
EQT Foundation' investment
EQT Foundation invested in Living Carbon's seed round and has further supported the company in a recent up-round. Living Carbon is a good fit with EQT Foundation characterized by the long technology development timeline and the clear benefit from EQT's presence in the US forestry sector through EQTs thematic focus on nature-based infrastructure. At the point of investment, the company had yet to prove its thesis but has now proven that its bioengineered seedlings do grow faster and result in more resilient plants. EQT Foundation is thrilled to support Living Carbon in reaching commercial scale.