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  • Writer's pictureTerri Pugh

May 16, 2023 - Your Scoop in CDR!

Updated: May 17

Sebastian Manhart’s astute assessment of the CarbonUnbound Summit that was held in Manhattan on May 11th and 12th is a must read to those who could not attend.

I had the pleasure to attend and speak at the premier edition of Carbon Unbound #NYC. Blessed by glorious weather and hosted in central Manhattan, a diverse group of 300 carbon dioxide removal (#CDR) enthusiasts gathered to discuss the question: “how do we get CDR to gigaton scale?”

Here are my key #takeaways from the sessions, but particularly from the fantastic conversations I had throughout the conference:

📈 Suppliers are promising huge numbers: we are not talking hundreds or even thousands of tons anymore. Suppliers across pathways (#BiCRS, #DACCS, #ERW) are now promising hundreds of thousands of tons before 2030.

💵 Demand doesn't seem ready for it: there are only a dozen or so companies that have bought 1,000 tons or more of durable CDR. Despite great announcements like #NextGen´s 200k tons deal, demand is unlikely going to grow at the pace suppliers are hoping.

💡 Some seek commodification of CDR: in order to get the interest of big financial players and mature the market, some suggest that CDR should become a commodity, easily tradable on primary and secondary markets. Others argue the exact opposite, stressing the differences in quality between CDR pathways.

🔎 Automation and digitisation can reduce complexity: monitoring, reporting, and verification (#MRV) remains a key bottleneck to drive purchases. Efforts to deploy MRV more effectively at scale through the use of technology will be essential.

🛢 The role of oil and gas is not clear: most folks agreed that O&G has an important role to play in scaling CDR. How deep this partnership should be on a business, investment, and policy level is less clear. In the US, CDR largely means DACCS, and DACCS seems impossible to succeed without O&G.

Overall, it seems that the #VCM provides a critical launchpad to get CDR off the ground and to a decent scale. But it is too unstable and small to scale CDR to gigaton scale. We will need to complement it with large-scale government procurement soon and - eventually - compliance markets forcing all major emitters to procure CDR for their hard-to-abate emissions. To me, this seems like the only way to actually achieve gigaton-scale CDR and help mitigate climate change.

A huge thanks to the organisers of Carbon Unbound, the incredible speakers, and - most of all - the fabulous attendees who generously shared their insights with me over the last few days: Marta, Martin, Ben, Jason, Nicholas, Toby, Christopher, Mike, Patricia, Kyle, Philip, Robert, André, Felix, Susan, Adrian, Elisa, Catherine, Adam, Mónica, Anu, James, and many others.

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