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📄 Fossil Fuels, Carbon Management & CDR

My Climate Journey

Photo by Callum Shaw / Unsplash

Host: Jason Jacobs
Guest: Shuchi Talati | Chief of Staff, Office of Fossil Energy & Carbon Management | U.S. Department of Energy
Category: 📄 Carbon Policy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[4:43] “My priority [is] to really think critically about the role of fossil fuels, of the fossil fuel industry. And also to think about carbon management and what that means as we strive towards net zero by 2050. And so really important pieces of that include frontline communities that have borne the brunt of the fossil fuel industry and those impacts, but also communities that have been huge parts of the labor input that have gone into both coal mining [and] natural gas extraction. […] And so really thinking about what the energy transition needs for both of these kinds of communities, and how we can do the best work possible for them and for climate.”

[11:04] “We are far from where we need to be in terms of deployment. But I am so motivated by the momentum that we have in this administration. It's clear that CDR will be needed on any pathway to net zero or on any pathway to 1.5. […] There are countless approaches that are […] encapsulated by the CDR. There's engineered approaches like direct air capture or enhanced mineralization. There's more land based approaches like soil carbon sequestration or reforestation. There's also ocean based approaches like direct ocean capture, or ocean alkalinity enhancement.”

[11:44] “I think what is really important is that we ensure they lead to durable storage, so they're actually removing carbon from the atmosphere permanently. And that we're able to bond off to verify the actions that were deployed. And so that means […] verifiable carbon accounting, and also when it comes to deployment, ensuring that we're doing it equitably and through engaging the public. I think, in the past, we really haven't thought through how to build out new industries, because that's not really something that we had the opportunity to do. I think we very much have that for this.”

[12:58] “I think one really critical question is […] who gets to assign value. And we put value on a lot of things that don't inherently have monetary value. And so at some point it’s the role of the federal government to pay for these types of removals. Now, that said, this policy does not exist yet. And when it comes to having carbon to convert or store, some doesn't inherently have any market value, but some do. And so for example, we could utilize carbon right now for building materials, which do have inherent value. We can also convert the CO2 into chemicals, which have inherent value. But in terms of really thinking through what we need for other scales that we're talking about, we're really going to have to invest in geologic storage. And in terms of that having value it doesn't yet, we need government incentives.”

[14:55] “An interesting thing that we started to see over the last year or two is a lot of companies making net zero commitments, or even net negative commitments, and that means CDR. And so we're starting to see companies themselves assigning value to removing carbon. Now that said, a voluntary offset market is something that is not yet regulated. And so deciding what a real offset means and if we are applying carbon accounting in the best way to those offsets, I don't think that's happening yet. And so I think it does take the federal government to really define what high quality offsets are, and how companies or the private industry should be interacting with a market. And I think that's something that is the role of the public sector to have that oversight and to ensure transparency.”

[16:12] “I think the dangerous thing right now is individual companies are defining what their own quality offsets are. And I think we're seeing different definitions that are helpful or not. […] I do think having a standardized definition of what a high quality offset is, can't come from the private sector, it has to cover the public sector. And ensuring that there's oversight over what these offsets are actually accomplishing also, I think needs to come from the public sector, because public oversight is absolutely essential. These are not goals that only benefit these companies. These are goals to benefit the public. So the public should be a huge part of understanding if that's actually happening.”

[34:35] “The vast majority of our zero carbon energy right now comes from nuclear, and so you should really be conscious of that. But at the same time, nuclear waste continues to be a huge issue. […] I think sometimes a lot of people […] dismiss nuclear out of heed. I think that's really dangerous, given how much we depend on it for our currency of the zero carbon energy space. I think the future of nuclear holds a lot of promise. […] And I don't really think anyone can say what the future of that is, I think that's dependent on investments dependent on breakthroughs. And I don't really think we have the luxury of ruling anything out or say[ing] anything can't be part of our net zero plans.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify (Original Title: "Shuchi Talati, Chief of Staff, Office of Fossil Energy & Carbon Management at the U.S. Department of Energy")
🕰️ 46 min | 🗓️ 11/08/2021
✅ Time saved: 44 min

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