Introducing … VERGE Carbon
Introducing … VERGE Carbon
At this year’s VERGE event, in October in Oakland, we’ll be adding a fourth concurrent conference, joining VERGE Energy, VERGE Transport and VERGE Circular:
VERGE Carbon, focusing on the birth and maturing of a new carbon economy.
To be clear, such an economy isn’t yet a thing, although it soon could be. And this isn’t necessarily a term or framework to which you’ll need to commit or to which you’ll need to realign your company’s strategy, products and services, although that could happen over the next few years.
But something unmistakable is taking shape: Companies large and small — sometimes in partnership with research institutions, national or subnational governments, NGOs and others — are seeing business opportunities in reversing climate change.
Yes: reversing, not just stopping or slowing it.
VERGE Carbon will focus on carbon removal, a broad range of practices and technologies that aim to draw down greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and repatriate them back to the soil, into new materials, into forests and farms or underground — and the commercial viability of doing so.
That is, it will focus on areas where carbon removal is becoming a business.
(We’ve just opened the call for speakers for VERGE 19, including VERGE Carbon. See here.)
We’ve been covering these topics for several years:
- the mathematical necessity of carbon removal in order to reduce the negative impacts of climate change;
- the purpose-built organizations emerging to lead the charge such as Carbon180 and Project Drawdown;
- the growing interest among food and ag companies (General Mills and McDonald’s, for example) in "carbon farming," a range of practices, such as Adaptive Multi-Paddock grazing, that sequester carbon while improving topsoil;
- the growing interest in "blue carbon," the role of rivers and oceans in sequestering climate gases;
- how the energy sector is viewing carbon removal as a route to produce climate-neutral fuels;
- the entrepreneurs creating new materials and products derived from climate gases, including concrete and high-valued oils;
- the many efforts to suck climate gases out of the atmosphere and use them to grow or make things; and
- the policies and tax credits that can enable and accelerate all these activities.
As you can see, it’s already a rich conversation, and it’s just getting started.
So is the market. Carbon capture, use and storage accounted for about $3 billion in revenue globally in 2017, and the segment is expected to reach $20 billion by 2026, according to research published last week by ResearchAndMarkets.com. Those numbers consider only a subset of the carbon-removal opportunity — things such as using carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery or capturing carbon dioxide from industrial smokestacks.
VERGE 19, which centers on the convergence of technology and sustainability, is an ideal platform to accelerate the carbon-removal conversation — and the market. The event’s underlying theme is how to develop, align and disseminate technologies and activities that contribute to a low-carbon economy and that increase opportunities at every scale: from far-flung smallholders that feed into global supply chains to local communities to ambitious and audacious "moonshot" carbon drawdown programs by large institutions.
(And yes, "low-carbon" isn’t a particularly good term. Carbon is central to life — we’re all made of it, and our food supply and material world depend on an abundance of it. Climate change stems from an excess of carbon dioxide and other gases accumulating in the wrong place — earth's atmosphere. "Low-carbon," which refers to the need to reduce emissions of such fugitive gases, is the dominant meme, so we’ll continue to use it, along with the phrase "new carbon economy," which speaks to the opportunity side.)
Whatever it’s called, I probably don’t need to explain the urgency of all this, which was clearly spelled out by a spate of reports last fall. One concluded that carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are now far above pre-industrial levels, with no sign of a reversal of that upward trend. And then there's the United Nations' conclusion that we have only about a dozen years to take action in order to keep global temperature increases below 1.5 degrees Celsius, beyond which even half a degree rise significantly could worsen droughts, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
So, all of this is happening not a moment too soon. Carbon removal isn’t just another science experiment trying to become a business opportunity. It’s a global necessity, with existential implications.
We’re excited to play a role in igniting this conversation — and, beyond talk, spurring action to implement carbon-removal technologies at a scale, scope and speed that can reverse the impending climate crisis. And, in the process, helping create a new generation of profitable companies and business units showing the way.