(Bloomberg) -- Former US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz called for creating a federal authority to pay for removing vast amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, saying the approach was needed to scale up an industry he called essential to fighting climate change.

Moniz’s Energy Futures Initiative think tank proposed establishing a National Carbon Removal Authority that would treat extracting carbon from the air as a public benefit, paid for with public money. The authority would begin operations in 2035, paying private companies to remove atmospheric carbon and either use it or store it. The authority would have a $33 billion budget to cover its first 10 years. 

Companies such as Climeworks and Global Thermostat have developed ways to extract heat-trapping carbon dioxide from ambient air. But the initiative argues that such carbon dioxide removal (CDR) efforts will need to be deployed at a massive scale by mid-century to keep global warming below 1.5C (2.7F), even if the world manages to slash new emissions. A government authority willing to pay for the service could help the emerging industry grow to the point where it’s storing more than 1 billion tons of CO2 in the US each year.  

“We have to fight for every damn tenth of a degree we can get,” Moniz said Thursday at an event in Washington introducing the proposal. 

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