Climate Vault Request for Information (RFI)

Climate Vault provides market-based solutions for eliminating carbon emissions and removing CO2 from the atmosphere while stimulating innovation through competitively funding carbon dioxide removal (CDR). This Request for Information (RFI) will help shape a future Request for Proposals (RFP) to fund innovative CDR technologies.

Climate Vault and the CDR Award

Climate Vault is a Delaware registered non profit non stock company founded at the University of Chicago by a team led by economist Dr. Michael Greenstone. Its mission is to significantly reduce CO2 emissions—the leading cause of climate change—and accelerate innovation in CDR technologies.

Climate Vault is creating the world’s first large scale eco-system for CDR by competitively awarding funding to permanently capture CO2 from the environment to spur the innovation required to make these technologies economically viable in the long-term. Climate Vault will do this by purchasing emissions permits from CO2 cap-and-trade markets and “Vault” the permits. Climate Vault will award the held permits to CDR solutions on a ton-per-ton basis.

Essentially, the value of an emission permit will be granted to successful applicants on a ton for ton basis (one permit for each ton of carbon dioxide removed). This is not an investment, but a grant. At the time of the grant, the successful awardee can choose to cash out the emissions permit, or they can choose to hold the permit for sale at a future date in anticipation of a value increase. The obligation of the CDR organization is to prove that a ton of carbon dioxide has been removed from the atmosphere for each permit awarded.

Climate Vault has recruited a group of science and technology experts (the Climate Vault Tech Chamber) to provide strategic oversight for the evaluation of CDR applications. The Tech Chamber includes:

  • Ernest Moniz, President and CEO, Energy Futures Initiative (Chair)
  • Sally Benson, Precourt Family Professor in Energy Resources Engineering, Stanford University
  • Steve Pacala, Frederick D. Petrie Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
  • Margaret Leinen, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego
  • Cathie Woteki, Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University
  • John Deutch, Emeritus Institute Professor, MIT

Later this year, Climate Vault plans to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for CDR projects seeking to qualify for the award of carbon permits. Applicants will be asked to submit a short (e.g., two page) concept paper describing how the proposed project represents an innovative and potentially transformational solution for carbon removal, quantification of expected CO2 removals, and the project’s avoidance of environmental and social harms. The initial application fee will be minimal. Selected applicants will be invited to submit a full application. Climate Vault will review full applications according to pre-determined criteria and will select the awardees. The awardees will receive carbon permits at a rate commensurate with implementation of projects that capture and sequester or otherwise utilize carbon dioxide.

Respondent Information

Please provide the following information in your response. You may be contacted by a member of the Climate Vault team for additional follow up.

  • Your Name
  • Company
  • Email

RFI Questions

Climate Vault is requesting responses to the following questions on key parameters that should be reflected in the RFP from prospective project sponsors and external stakeholders. Please note that RFI responses must not exceed 6 pages in length.

1. In developing the criteria to provide award to the most cutting-edge CDR solutions, Climate Vault seeks additional details on the potential timing, scale, and scope of deployment for potential technologies seeking Climate Vault support.

  • In terms of annual carbon dioxide removal, what is the scale of viable projects? Measured in terms of metric tons of CO2 per year (tCO2/year), are there viable projects at 50,000 tCO2/year? 100,000 tCO2/year? 500,000 tCO2/year? Other?
  • At what price ($/tCO2) are projects viable?
  • How quickly can projects begin to remove CO2 (e.g., 1 year, 5 years, 10 years)?
  • How many years of guaranteed permit awards are necessary to begin a project?

2. Climate Vault seeks to support a variety of terrestrial, technological, and ocean CDR pathways to catalyze the development of a CDR industry.

  • Should the RFP initially prioritize a targeted CDR pathway (e.g., carbon mineralization projects) or support a broad portfolio of CDR approaches from the start?
  • What are the most promising pathways in terms of delivering carbon removal at low cost?
  • What are the pathways where demonstration projects will produce the most learning?
  • Should the RFP allow reforestation and afforestation projects?
  • Should the RFP allow projects designed to increase the carbon content of agricultural soils? If so, should this be restricted to agricultural amendments, such as the addition of crushed ultramafic rock, or should it also include practices such as reduced-tillage and the planting of cover crops?

We encourage respondents to provide project-specific details and examples illustrating a rationale for their responses where applicable (e.g., anticipated project size, scale of addressable market, project development timeline).

3. Climate Vault will allocate a tradable permit for one ton of CO2 for each ton of CO2 verifiably removed from the environment. Recipients can immediately monetize the credits or hold them indefinitely with the prospect of future price appreciation. Credits may be transferred to the successful projects or held in trust by Climate Vault until such time as they may be applied in a transaction.

  • Upon receipt of an award, will firms be able to obtain financing? How helpful would it be if Climate Vault had arrangements with organizations that can provide financing? How important is that some portion of the award be provided in advance?
  • If the proposed project is also seeking to qualify for other incentives that are awarded on the basis of tons of CO2 removed (e.g., Sec. 45Q tax credits, Low Carbon Fuel Standard), how should the RFP be designed to avoid doubling counting?
  • Would the award of carbon permits from Climate Vault provide a significant incremental business incentive (financial, reputational, environmental, or otherwise) for CDR projects to proceed now or in the future or to help them obtain future financing? How can the award of carbon permits be best structured in order to maximize the incentive effect?

We encourage respondents to provide project-specific details and examples illustrating a rationale for their responses where applicable (e.g., cost structure, financing plan, anticipated use of other incentives, credit value needed to provide sufficient financial incentive).

4. What other information could you share to help Climate Vault scope an RFP that would meaningfully advance the CDR industry?

5. What would be the most important information Climate Vault can provide to better equip your organization to apply to a future RFP?

Responding to this RFI

Responses to this RFI must be submitted no later than September 12, 2021 at 11:59pm CT. RFI submissions will be accepted as PDF or PowerPoint email attachments only. All responses must be sent to, with “Climate Vault RFI Response” in the subject line.

Organizations responding to this RFI must be:
1) for-profit entities, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations;
2) national laboratories and state/local governments; or
3) consortium of the previously listed entities.

All inquiries related to this RFI should be directed to Climate Vault RFP Management. Please send an email with the subject “RFI Inquiry” to

Disclaimer and Important Notes

This RFI is issued solely for information and planning purposes and does not constitute an RFP. Climate Vault may issue an RFP in the future related to the responses to this RFI; however, responding to this RFI does not provide any advantage or disadvantage to potential applicants.

Climate Vault will not publicly disclose proprietary information obtained through this RFI. All information provided by will be kept confidential.