Recap: Workshop – Envisioning a Carbon Negative Economy

Last month, the Iowa State Initiative for a Carbon Negative Economy hosted a workshop in Denver on Energy Supply with Carbon Negative Emissions. I was fortunate enough to get to speak on a very engaging panel about the regulatory implications of the carbon negative energy supplies, recording above. Both during the panel and throughout the other sessions that day, I was energized by the great discussions on how CDR might impact our energy sector and response to climate change.

My key takeaways from the event include:

  • We need more events like this. Speakers at the event highlighted the scientific need for negative emission solutions, and spoke about a range of potential options — all under one roof. This is a big step forward for an otherwise highly siloed field. Many other CDR events focus on a single approach (e.g. Direct Air Capture, biochar, or land management) or single audience (e.g. academic, professional, etc.). This event was an important opportunity for academics, industry, and government professionals to all share their perspectives, and to start discussing opportunities for collaboration across the CDR field.Above: Jenny Milne form Stanford discussing “Pathways to Carbon Negative Energy”
  • We need to communicate the message on CDR clearly for it to gain any traction. The scientific community was delivering a loud and clear message for the need for CDR to the other scientists in the room. But a very different story needs to be told to the industry and government leaders to get the message out about CDR. CDR can be a boon to a far ranging group of industries, can lead to job and wealth creation across many geographies, and can facilitate political negotiations over fighting climate change. Future events like this one would benefit by including additional perspectives from non-scientific angles.
  • Emerging academic CDR clusters will be important for the field. Iowa state, with their ICNE for example, is emerging as a leading center for biological CDR work. Research clusters like this can generate numerous serendipitous outcomes that help propel the CDR field. Columbia University and Arizona State University have also taken early leads on building CDR research clusters, and it will be interesting to see how these communities develop and collaborate over the coming years.

Overall – I would say this ICNE event was a great success, and I look forward to collaborating with the ICNE community going forward!

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