Sarah Braverman

Policy Associate

Carbon Direct recently attended two big conferences on the topic of climate solutions and carbon management. The first was Climate Week NYC, held in New York City, and second was the Global Clean Energy Action Forum (GCEAF), hosted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Both of these conferences provided a location for stakeholders from all over the world and across all sectors of the economy to convene, discuss, and plan for a response to climate change.

This cross-sectoral participation in conversations around climate solutions demonstrates significant progress. Recent U.S. federal legislation, including the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA 2022), have unlocked new opportunities for climate initiatives in the U.S. and around the world. This demonstration of U.S. support for climate solutions brought optimism and enthusiasm to both of these conferences.

Climate Week NYC 2022

Every year since 2009, Climate Week NYC has convened the most influential leaders in the climate community to discuss, learn, plan, and take action to tackle the global climate crisis. This city-wide event provides a platform for those who want to participate in climate action to learn and collaborate with those who are active in this space. This year, members of Carbon Direct’s team participated in the largest climate event in the world through presentations and meetings with innovators and catalysts in numerous areas of expertise, but especially those focusing on carbon dioxide removal (CDR).

For those who are new to CDR, the Carbon Dioxide Removal Primer defines it as “activities that remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and durably store it in geological, terrestrial, or ocean reservoirs, or in products. CDR includes enhancement of biological or geochemical sinks and direct air capture (DAC) and storage, but excludes natural CO2 uptake not directly caused by human intervention.” Both the IPCC WGIII report and its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C assert with strong evidence that CDR is now necessary to meet our global climate goals.

Carbon Direct engages with companies that utilize CDR as one approach toward a goal of generating net-negative emissions. Every organization has a carbon footprint - which means the clients we work with come from virtually all sectors of the economy. CDR systems and technologies can be applied to a wide range of industries. One of the most remarkable experiences of Climate Week NYC was witnessing the cross-sectorial conversations as they took place. We heard announcements of partnerships between fossil fuel companies, CDR providers, and climate scientists. We heard discussions between politicians, philanthropies, and climate activists.

Members of the Carbon Direct Leadership Team presented in a variety of venues. CEO Jon Golberg led a panel discussion on ‘CDR and the Carbon Drawdown’ at the Holon IQ Global Impact Summit. Nili Gilbert, Carbon Direct Vice Chairwoman, spoke at numerous events during Climate Week NYC, including the Fortune Global Sustainability Summit, the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit, and the Clinton Global Initiative panel on ‘Reaching Net Zero: How we can Achieve the Ambitious Pledges for Carbon Reductions’ (watch the replay). Dr. Julio Friedmann, Carbon Direct’s Chief Scientist, moderated a panel at API and Clear Path’s Implementing the Largest Low-Carbon Energy Investment Programs in U.S. History on the topic of finance and deployment of Direct Air Capture (DAC).

Decarbonization is a monumental task - there are some sectors, such as steel, cement, aviation and maritime shipping, that will have a harder time reducing emissions than others. Sarah Braverman, Carbon Direct’s Policy Associate, listened in on a panel discussion about the role of hydrogen in the clean energy transition as both a powerful fuel for maritime shipping and long-haul trucking, but also as a form of energy storage for renewable power. The IRA 2022 incentivizes hydrogen production with incrementally more funding available for cleaner hydrogen. This kind of support is essential in order to successfully scale up the production of clean hydrogen.

Global Clean Energy Action Forum

The U.S. Department of Energy, in collaboration with the 13th Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM13) and the 7th Mission Innovation (MI7) ministerial, hosted the first-ever Global Clean Energy Action Forum (GCEAF) in the Steel City of Pittsburgh. This three-day conference convened around 6,000 people from 31 counties to discuss the global challenges and opportunities of the clean energy transition.

Carbon Direct Inc. attended the GCEAF to share our knowledge in carbon dioxide removal (CDR) pathways1 and expertise of global and regional carbon markets. We participated in roundtable discussions with CDR suppliers and officials from various government agencies around the world. Our Chief Scientist, Dr. Julio Friedmann, took part in a ministerial round table on CO2 removal and presented on two panels - one on clean fuel suppliers and one on engineered CO2 removal (e.g., direct air capture or biomass with CCS).

Both panels featured commercial developers bringing new projects into global markets. Both spoke to diverse audiences of government officials, investors, NGOs, civil society, and experts. Across all of our engagements with stakeholders from multiple sectors at this conference, we found common support for:

  1. Private-public partnerships to scale innovation and deployment of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) on a large scale;
  2. Intergovernmental partnerships to share technological and knowledge resources, especially between the global north and south;
  3. Increasing public engagement, awareness, and understanding of CCUS technologies, and their role in the clean energy transition; and
  4. Amending current policies and drafting new policies that support novel CCUS technologies. It is important that these policies are technology neutral, universally supporting CDR projects across a range of various CCUS technologies.

From our conversations with stakeholders across the CDR space, we were able to identify key challenges that CCUS and CO2 removal face in research, development, and deployment:

  1. Even with policy tailwinds, many projects, especially the more expensive CO2 removal pathways, lack financing and carry too much risk.

  2. Negative public perception of CDR systems is blocking scale-up, especially for carbon capture systems.

  3. Permitting for CO2 geological storage is limited in accessibility.

  4. CO2 capture, transport, storage, and utilization infrastructure is not where it needs to be for wide-scale deployment.

  5. There is an acute shortage of professionals of all kinds trained in CCUS deployment in order to meet the IPCC’s 1.5°C global warming scenario.

We arrived at GCEAF feeling positive about the public and private sector support for CDR. This stemmed from both the enthusiasm for CDR represented at Climate Week NYC and from the recent passage of supportive federal policy, like the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

We left GCEAF feeling proud of the progress the CDR market has made over the past 20 years. There have been significant advancements in technology and a surge of new companies developing existing and new CDR systems. We look to the future of the CDR market with optimism knowing that leaders in both the private and public sectors are interested in tackling the challenges that were identified at the GCEAF and have plans to implement decarbonization strategies that support the sustainable growth of the CDR sector.

Keeping the Momentum Strong Post-Conferences

We left the conferences feeling energized by the cross-sectoral support for scaling up carbon removal pathways and clean energy. There was one quote that has lingered with us in the weeks following these conferences: “we need to stop looking ahead to 2050 and start looking at what we can feasibly achieve by 2030”. The best time to initiate your decarbonization plan is now. Partnerships, particularly private-public partnerships, will be key to the success of decarbonization efforts and humanity’s survival through this climate crisis.

We look forward to seeing the roll out of the climate policies that were passed this year and for all the climate policies that are in the works. At the very least, you can keep the momentum of Climate Week NYC and GCEAF going by having conversations about decarbonization in your circles and seeking out opportunities to get involved.

From carbon footprinting to risk mitigation to carbon removal procurement, learn more about Carbon Direct Inc.’s end-to-end carbon management platform here.