Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has offered inventors $US100 million in prize money to develop ways to fight global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or ocean.
“Right now we’ve only got one planet, said Mr Musk, chief executive of electric car maker Tesla.
“Even a 0.1 per cent chance of disaster – why run that risk? That’s crazy!”
In January, Mr Musk announced his intention to offer $US100 million ($A129 million) in prizes and set out the contest rules on Thursday, Earth Day.
The incentive prize will last through to Earth Day, 2025.
“I don’t think we are currently doomed,” Mr Musk said.
“If we keep going, complacent, there is some risk of non-linear climate change.”
Carbon capture projects have already drawn backing from Silicon Valley start-ups aiming for a technological solution to climate change, public officials worried about the slow pace of cutting emissions, and emitters including oil companies seeking to offset their climate impacts.
The technology is not yet commercially viable. Removing carbon costs more than $US300 a metric tonne in a world that each year emits greenhouse gases equivalent to about 50billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Mr Musk’s $US100 million XPRIZE Carbon Removal is aimed at finding a viable solution for taking 1000 tonnes out of the atmosphere annually, with potential to scale up dramatically.
Mr Musk has built a reputation as an industrialist focused on environmentalism, turning electric car maker Tesla into the world’s most valuable vehicle company and expanding into solar power so customers can charge their rides carbon-free.