I changed my mind about carbon markets
August 11, 2021
One of my favorite questions is “What have you changed your mind about in the last year?” In a fast growing industry this question is tool to cut loose from assumptions and keep moving. I asked this to Liz, Shuchi, and Julio at the VERGE Net Zero conference, and here's my own answer:
What I changed my mind about: Carbon removal credits (video version of this note here)
What I used to think
- We need to get to large scale carbon removal, but a carbon tax or carbon removal credits are a non-starter.
- Because of that, I went all in on carbon utilization. Better, faster, stronger products are the only ones that have potential
- Everything carbon removal markets related, as needed as it seemed, just seemed impossible. Governments wouldn't fund it, corporations wouldn't fund it.
- Governments started funding carbon removal: DOE/ARPA-E investing millions, $3.2B proposed in USA Infrastructure bill
- Corporations started buying carbon removal (Microsoft, Stripe, Shopify, South Pole + Mitsubishi aiming towards $1B)
Now I think
- Carbon markets are where the funding is going for early startup companies
- Are the millions going into carbon removal credits going to prop up gigaton scale carbon removal? Certainly not, but it's a good start.
- A carbon tax still seems unlikely, but not impossible, and may be our best avenue to reach large scale carbon removal
- Making stuff out of carbon dioxide is no longer the only option for startup business models
That's what I changed my mind about in last year. Taking a holistic view to figuring out how to take carbon out of the atmosphere, and adjusting what I think as the market develops.
What have you changed your mind about in the last year?
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