A $10.7 billion plan for carbon dioxide removal technologies

Jason Grumet, President of the Bipartisan Policy Center, with EFI Founder Ernest Moniz. Source: BPC

As the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned the world, if we are unable to stop the planet from warming, we’ll continue to witness more frequent catastrophic weather events. This will lead to more frequent wildfires, more “100-year’” floods, and more deadly hurricanes. Yet federal Research, Development, and Demonstration (RD&D) efforts to deploy carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies — which are key to reversing the effects of emissions — are generally uncoordinated and underfunded.

In September 2019, EFI called for accelerated development of CDR technologies with the release of Clearing the Air: A Federal RD&D Initiative and Management Plan for Carbon Dioxide Removal Technologies, which proposes a 10-year, $10.7 billion RD&D initiative to bring CDR technologies to commercial readiness.

The RD&D portfolio is organized according to the four major capture technology pathways (direct air capture, terrestrial and biological, carbon mineralization, and coastal and oceans), two CO2 disposition pathways (geologic sequestration and CO2 utilization), and two cross-cutting programs (systems analysis and large-scale demonstration projects).

EFI highlighted these findings at two events at Climate Week in New York City. At the first event, held in partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), EFI Founder Ernest Moniz outlined an ambitious program calling for government investment and agency redesign. He also joined with EDF president Fred Krupp in writing an opinion piece for The Hill: Cutting Climate Pollution Isn’t Enough- We Also Need Carbon Removal.

Moniz also delivered a keynote speech at the Climate Week session “Step Up: The Business Case for Climate Action,’’ before an invited audience of sustainability executives, CEOs, and state and city officials, which outlined the critical role of businesses in helping their countries meet their net-zero targets. The following month, Moniz joined Jason Grumet at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington to outline the case for CDR research investment. The event was targeted to DC policymakers and their staff, who are key to obtaining increased funding for CDR and mandating changes to Federal agency structures.

EFI is now organizing a series of technical workshops led by EFI Senior Analyst Tim Bushman on lesser-known CDR approaches including new plant cultivars optimized for carbon sequestration, carbon capture and storage in marine environments, and carbon mineralization. These workshops will develop reports aimed to educate policymakers on the importance of these CDR pathways and identify some of the key priority research areas, which will be published in a staggered manner from June through August 2020.

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