The Houston Texans plan to offset the pollution is backed by Big Oil and Gas

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The Houston Texans, the NFL team representing the city that is arguably the world’s oil and gas capital, say it wants to go green. So, of course, the team is working with an oil and gas giant to tackle climate change.

A subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum Corporation called 1PointFive announced a new agreement and sponsorship with the Houston Texans on Friday. 1PointFive is Occidental’s massive new initiative to remove planet-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in an effort to mitigate climate change. It can then sell credits for every ton of CO2 it captures to other companies trying to offset their own climate pollution. Essentially, Occidental can now make money from both its oil and gas business – and from the emissions generated from burning that oil and gas.

The Texans agreed to buy enough carbon credits from 1PointFive to offset future emissions from flights the team takes for away games over three regular seasons. “The sponsorship makes 1PointFive the Texans’ Preferred Carbon Removal Partner,” a press release said.

It is expected to be one of the first large-scale carbon removal facilities of its kind and will be a major test of the relatively new technology

While the goal is for the team to reverse the effects of the pollution, the Texans are actually funding a carbon removal project that is still under construction. There is no environmental benefit yet: the project started in August 2022 and will not go online until the end of 2024. It is expected to be one of the first large-scale carbon removal facilities of its kind and will be a major test for the relatively new technology.

The carbon credits the Texans are buying should come from a “Direct Air Capture” (DAC) plant that Occidental is building in Texas’s oil-rich Permian Basin. The installation is designed to filter CO2 from the ambient air. Fewer than 20 such factories are currently operational; the first came online in 2017. So far, all of the world’s DAC plants still lack the capacity to suck up a significant portion of the CO2 buildup in our atmosphere – capturing only 0.01 million tons of carbon dioxide per year on.

There are a few different options for what to do with that carbon once it’s captured. It could be stored in underground wells, which is probably the best hope of capturing it permanently so it doesn’t continue to warm the planet. The captured CO2 can also be sold as a product, for example to make carbonated drinks, but that only slows the escape of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The largest use the oil industry has had for captured carbon dioxide to date is, unsurprisingly, using it to produce more petroleum. The CO2 can be pumped into an oil field to squeeze out hard-to-reach reserves in a process called enhanced oil recovery. Occidental has already used its upcoming DAC plant in the Permian Basin to sell what it calls more environmentally friendly “net-zero oil.”

According to Occidental, the carbon credits Texans buy are not tied to new oil and gas production. Instead, it should be permanently stored in salt reservoirs.

Unfortunately, you are wasting valuable time investing in climate technology that is years away, instead of tackling pollution now. Carbon dioxide emissions are already the cause of weather-related disasters – from floods to droughts and heat waves. And the world may be only about nine years away from crossing an important threshold — 1.5 degrees of global warming above pre-industrial times — which research suggests would trigger a whole new level of climate catastrophe.

If the Texans want to address those kinds of issues related to their emissions, the team may want to choose less polluting modes of travel than air travel. It could create a game plan to prevent its pollution in the first place rather than making promises to address it over time. For now, the biggest beneficiary of the Occidental Texans’ new carbon offset plan isn’t the climate.

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