On January 25th, the American Security Project hosted its third webinar in the “Innovating Out of the Climate Crisis” series, this time exploring how to manage carbon emissions. The expert panelists included Jennifer Wilcox, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management at the U.S. Department of Energy; Antonia Gawel, Head of Climate Change and Deputy Head of the Centre for Nature & Climate at the World Economic Forum; and Jack Andreasen, a Manager at Breakthrough Energy for Carbon Management and U.S. Policy & Advocacy. ASP Senior Adjunct Fellow Lindsey Iversen moderated the discussion.
Jennifer Wilcox kicked off the discussion by outlining the two primary carbon capture mechanisms. The first, and most promising, is capturing carbon emissions at their source, and the second involves extracting carbon out of the atmosphere. She also highlighted that while there is criticism that carbon capture technology only extends the life of fossil fuel usage, it is likely that this approach will help the stability of energy markets through the transition to greener forms of energy and is, overall, more economically efficient.
Jack Andreasen followed by offering insight on the positive effect that the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) tax credits will have on reducing the hefty cost associated with getting carbon capture technology off the ground. Indeed, he points out, the steps taken by the government in the IRA have already spurred an increase in investment announcements. Antonia Gawel reinforced this sentiment and underscored the importance of the private sector utilizing the IRA incentives to scale up carbon capture technology to a commercial level. To do so, she argues, we will need to create demand that, in turn, will foster more robust investment and bring projects to life.
Looking to the future, Wilcox highlighted the need for research to optimize carbon capture frameworks and develop better metrics, despite the success of past carbon capture projects in sequestering carbon. Gawel brought the discussion to a close with a call to price carbon and invest in infrastructure to ensure the longevity of carbon capture projects.
Overall, the panelists provided a balanced and informative accounting of the barriers and solutions to scaling up carbon capture.