S1 #7 | How do we scale up?

Contents: introduction, guest appearances, further reading, transcript, sources, credits

"It's not going to take a few dozen, or a few hundred, or a couple thousand people working on this. We're going to need many more people working on this." (Marcius Extavour)

These days, we talk about carbon removal at the scale of tonnes - hundreds...even thousands of them. Over the coming decades, we will likely need to be talking at the scale of billions. So how do we get there?

And how can a young carbon removal business progress from "one small step" to many giant leaps towards healing humankind's climate conundrum?

In this episode, join Emily and Tom as we ponder a new carbon removal business, and search for the support that could get it off the ground. Marcius from XPRIZE lets us in on how we can get our slice of Elon Musk's $100m pie; Patricia from the Carbon Removal Centre opens our eyes to a community raring to go; and Brennan from Patch gives us the key to unlock the potential of carbon marketplaces. Let the air mining rush begin...

There's no doubting that we have a long way to go yet, but this episode will leave you feeling more optimistic and determined to scale the scaling up mountain.

This episode's guests

Many thanks to our excellent guests in this episode:

Want to delve deeper now you've listened to the show? Look no further than the list below of articles, podcasts and other resources. They helped us to learn more about how we might scale carbon removal to where it needs to be, and we think you might like them too...

Our Reading List & Sources

NamePublisherPublishing/Release DateSourceSummaryTag(s)Type
Carbontech - Carbon180 Fact Sheet
The Carbon Removal Centre Website
Skyrenu Website
XPRIZE and Musk Foundation name 23 winners in five million dollar carbon removal student competition
XPRIZE: Musk Foundation Competition Guidelines
Blue Symbiosis Website
Nan Ransohoff and Ryan Orbuch, Stripe Climate Team
My Climate Journey
September 4, 2020
A conversation with two key members of Stripe's climate team, who are responsible for the company's negative emissions commitment made in 2019.
Corporate pledgesPolicyOffsetsEconomics
Is your team embedding equity considerations into its carbon removal projects?
January 18, 2021
How much are we considering environmental justice in our carbon removal projects and investments? At this nascent stage of the industry, we have a real opportunity to embed these considerations, to the benefit of generations to come.
Environmental justiceScaling up
Drax's Towards Carbon Negative Resources
October 30, 2020
An update on Drax's progress towards being a carbon negative energy producer by 2030.
BECCSCorporate pledges
What if carbon removal becomes the new Big Oil?
The Economist
July 4, 2020
Moving toward Net-Zero Emissions Requires New Alliances for Carbon Dioxide Removal
August 21, 2020
This gives some overview of CDR technologies and the barriers we face in scaling up their deployment (governance, policy, acceptability). It argues that industry, researchers, policy-makers and the public must come together to deliver.
EconomicsScaling upEvidence communicationPolicy
Academic Journal
Driving CO2 emissions to zero (and beyond) with carbon capture, use, and storage
June 30, 2020
An investigation into the CCUS space, assessing the technologies and economics behind several CCUS scenarios over the next decade.
Carbon useCCSEconomics
S2E8: Salvation in the Air
The Economist
August 1, 2019
"At the dawn of the 20th century, chemists dreamed of extracting nitrogen from the air and turning it into a limitless supply of fertiliser. Sceptics thought they were crazy -- it was possible in theory, but it was unclear if it could be done in practice. What happened next changed the course of 20th-century history, and provides inspiration to innovators pursuing a different dream today: sucking carbon dioxide out of the air to avert climate change. Might they not be quite so crazy after all?"
DACScaling upInnovation
Money is pouring into carbon removal technologies, but the companies involved struggle to pay for it
March 6, 2021
This video gives an overview of carbon capture, DAC, case studies (Carbon Engineering and Climeworks), and how policy can address the difficulties that DAC and similar companies face in generating revenue.
Carbon useEconomicsScaling upDACPolicy
A power company’s potent vision: From neutral to negative emissions
July 9, 2020
Drax Group drastically reduced its carbon footprint by shifting from coal to biomass. CEO Will Gardiner discusses the costs and challenges to scaling up its model.
BECCSScaling up
Breaking down the case for massively scaling up carbon removal tech
January 14, 2021
A useful summary of a Nature Communications study, which models what a massive scale-up in DAC across the world could look like.
DACScaling up
Microsoft Carbon Removal portfolio
February 2, 2021
This visualisation details who and how much Microsoft is investing in to reach its carbon removal goals. Currently, the portfolio is dominated by forestry projects.
Corporate pledgesMeasuring CO2OffsetsTrees
Carbon Dioxide Removal Primer
Various authors
January 1, 2021
A summary of all things carbon dioxide removal related, written by several experts in the field. An invaluable resource, available as a book or freely available online.
Negative Emissions source materials
May 1, 2020
A link to applications completed by different CDR projects for support as part of Stripe's negative emissions commitment
Corporate pledgesOverview
Direct Air Capture: Leveraging technological innovation to safely remove carbon dioxide from ambient air
The Economist
June 1, 2020
Part of a series from The Economist, investigating the potential, risks and readiness behind different carbon removal technologies. This article focuses on DAC.
We're bringing environmental justice to the forefront of our work
December 21, 2020
Exxon Mobil 2021 Investor Day Webcast
Exxon Mobil
March 3, 2021
Particularly relevant here are slides 14-17, where ExxonMobil show the potential they see in CCS technologies.
Carbon useCCS
A commercialization strategy for carbon-negative energy
Nature Energy
January 11, 2016
Climate change mitigation requires gigatonne-scale CO2 removal technologies, yet few examples exist beyond niche markets. The flexibility of thermochemical conversion of biomass and fossil energy, coupled with carbon capture and storage, offers a route to commercializing carbon-negative energy.
BECCSScaling up
Academic Journal
There’s a lot more than Elon Musk’s $100 million riding on carbon removal
February 10, 2021
Introduction to Elon Musk's carbon removal prize
Inspiring for actionGeneral
Various authors
January 5, 2021
A letter expressing that the Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets should, for now, focus on quality of existing offsets, rather than scaling up a market (with justification).
OffsetsCriticismScaling upEconomics
The Air Mining Rush of Carbon Capture
January 25, 2021
Recommended by Sophie Purdom
With Big Oil declining, carbon removal industry could take its place
October 27, 2020
Decrement carbon: Stripe's negative emissions commitment
August 15, 2019
Stripe's announcement and rationale behind their negative emissions commitment
OffsetsCorporate pledges
Ecosia Regeneration report
March 1, 2021
Ecosia report on their environmental and social performance, which includes their huge reforestation/afforestation programme.
TreesOffsetsCorporate pledges

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The Carbon Removal Show is a Restored.cc and Cofruition production. We are sponsored by Patch. Here's who made this episode happen:

  • Emily Swaddle & Tom Previte - co-hosts
  • Ben Weaver-Hincks - producer
  • Henry Irvine - researcher
  • Sam Floy & Patrick Carter - project managers
  • Mercy Barno - editor
  • Sam Carter - music producer

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