Take a Look Around
Earth's climate has been going wonky for a while now, and most scientists agree that it will continue disrupting our society in big ways. In this video, we'll look at the Carbon Business Council, why they're so important, and what kinds of solutions they're bringing to the table.
The Industrial Revolution is responsible for much of the technology that powers modern society, but it's also the period during which society started burning a lot of coal for energy. We didn't realize it at the beginning, but we have since learned that the carbon dioxide these processes release functions as a "greenhouse gas" that traps heat in the atmosphere - And the amount of C02 we've emitted since has only skyrocketed upward. But our economies and standard of living still depend on oil and natural gas, not to mention it's cheap enough for developing countries to use to get out of poverty.
Governments have stepped in to help industrialized nations transition off of carbon emissions with measures like the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. On an international level, this committed 192 countries to "limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with agreed individual targets". This also created an emissions trading market, known as the carbon market, and a monitoring system to hold parties accountable (more on those later).
In 2015 came the Paris Agreement, which lays out the current legally binding standards for the goals set by companies and governments worldwide to reduce their carbon emissions. We measure our global temperature changes relative to around 1850. We're striving to keep our global temperature changes to less than 2º C, ideally less than 1.5ºC, (though this seems quite unlikely.. right now we're already 1.1º warmer)
At present, 70-plus countries have set official net-zero emissions targets, as well as over 3,000 businesses.
Governments and companies are mostly looking to reduce their emissions by transitioning to greener technologies that emit less carbon. But, even if we completely stop emissions, there are hundreds of billions of tons of C02 in our atmosphere that will continue warming the planet. In addition to lowering emissions, we must also explore the expanding field of carbon sequestration. This means removing carbon directly from the atmosphere and storing it somewhere safe.
We build carbon scrubbers in space shuttles and submarines, why not do it for our atmosphere, too? Dozens of companies and governments have serious plans for trying carbon removal at scale, but so far it's proven really difficult. This brings us to one of the most important developments in the climate industry as of late, the Carbon Business Council. What are they, and why do they matter?
Nice To CO2BC You!
"The CO2 BC is a member-driven nonprofit coalition of (about 75) companies unified to restore the climate. [They] are the preeminent industry voice for carbon management innovators."
They're a resource for citizens, politicians, and professionals to advocate for "responsible growth of the carbon management industry." Many of their member organizations have signed an Oath that outlines their dedication to the climate (though it's not required for membership).
They're also an industry group, which means they can lobby and put direct pressure on the government. Most of their member companies work in the carbon removal space, a new industry, so C02BC wants to steer it in the right direction.
C02BC is tech-neutral, which means they are embracing companies working on all different types of carbon removal. Here are just a few examples of what these member companies are up to:
Direct Air Capture:
- This is where money and publicity is often focused. It involves pulling carbon straight out of the air.
- For example, CarbonQuest captures C02 before it's even emitted from buildings.
- Heimdal makes 40ft shipping containers that can sequester 1000 tons of carbon per year
- Octavia brings DAC to the global south for the first time
- And much more
- Storing large amounts of carbon in the ocean is safe, and it supports marine ecosystems.
- Brilliant Planet uses algae, Seafields & Pull To Refresh are developing technology to sink seaweed
- This includes taking biomass (plants and wood) that would decay into the atmosphere and burying them to postpone those extra emissions.
- Also includes adding surplus concrete to soil, turning biomass into marketable projects [Takachar], and using biomass to generate renewable carbon-free energy [Myno Carbon and Pyreg].
- Cacto.Green makes leather from cacti
- Aether Diamonds is turning atmospheric carbon into diamonds!
- Much more
- This includes verification, tracking, standards creation, and software development, among other things:
- Carbon removal credits allow you to reach your emission goals by funding someone else's carbon removal project and then claiming those emission reductions yourself.They're controversial because we still need a better way to know if a carbon removal project needed your money to operate or if it is even being successful at removing the carbon it said it would. It can also allow corporations to continue emitting if they have enough capital to offset the costs, and many credits can be re-used by multiple parties.Nevertheless, implementation of blockchain technologies may hold the key to solving some credit issues.Carbon markets can help us make progress on hard-to-stop emissions as a stopgap solution, and they are a huge source of revenue for new, experimental technologies.
Let's Get Political?
It's also important these technologies can show that they're economically competitive. With solar and wind power, for example, there was a high upfront cost to get them going, but once we got started, R&D money poured in and we figured out how to drastically decrease the cost to the average Joanna.
The first objective of C02BC is to enter the VCM, or voluntary carbon market, space...
"provid[ing] a pathway for governments and corporations to purchase carbon removal credits, helping to scale a growing industry and realize net zero targets." 
This is a promising way of making carbon removal viable. The C02BC wrote a white-paper full of policy and market recommendations for VCMs. Some of these include:
- Ensuring many technologies are available for purchasers
- Distinguishing between offset and removal credits
- Streamlined verification and permitting process for companies to enter VCMs
- Setting the price of carbon removal to match the solutions' permanence (or, how long the removal lasts)
Streamlining carbon markets can help ensure we avoid many of the negatives and capitalize on the positives.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission put out an open call for information on carbon removal credits in June 2022, and C02BC responded  with these recommendations and more.
The year before, in 2021, 3.5 billion dollars were allocated to the US Department of Energy to build four regional direct air capture hubs, a program that accepted applications until a few months ago. By the time this is released, the awardees will likely be announced (see the link in the show notes.): https://www.energy.gov/oced/regional-direct-air-capture-hubs-update
What About US?
What about normal citizens? How do we help support the mission of the C02BC?
What are the right behaviors for individuals, corporations, and governments that we should support with our voting and purchasing power? First, lower your own emissions. Second, support projects that are verified to lower emissions elsewhere. Third, try to remain in the know about developments in the field so you can make smart decisions and encourage others to do the same. That's really all there is to it.
In an ideal future, we reach net zero emissions around 2050, keep our temperature increase around 1.8ºC, and adapt to the resulting changes in climate over the next decades. Within a century, perhaps, we absorb most of the unwanted carbon in the atmosphere.
Trade unions like C02BC may influence governments to adopt the right regulations and policies. This could help ensure the right companies have access to funding and are playing by the right rules. They will likely be one of the key players over the coming decades as we figure out how to hit the ambitious targets set by the Paris Accords.
Sound of Earth connects people just like you with the get-down on climate & sustainability solutions through concerts, festivals, and immersive experiences, as well as videos just like this one. If you’re based in Los Angeles, come to one of our shows and get 10% off with the promo code CO2BC - and if you’re a global citizen, you can experience the Sound of Earth energy via the music we share on our record label, and we hope to meet you at a festival in the very near future!