A Climate Change with Matt Matern Round Logo

A Climate Change with Matt Matern
Climate Podcast

108: Robert Höglund, Climate Advisor & Founder of Marginal Carbon

Guest Name(s): Robert Höglund

Robert manages the Milkywire Climate transformation portfolio and sits on the board of Mistra Sustainable Consumption. Robert previously headed Oxfam Sweden’s policy and communications team and took part in the Science-based Target Initiatives’ Net-zero expert advisory group. Listen in as Matt discusses the high stakes of carbon removal with Robert Hoglund. Robert is an innovative and independent advisor working on carbon removal, climate contributions, and climate policy, through his company Marginal Carbon.

Marginal Carbon >>

Milkywire Climate Transformation Fund >>

Mistra Sustainable Consumption >>

Episode Categories:
World changing carbon removal policies implemented in Sweden and across Europe, Robert Höglund is an independent advisor working on carbon removal, climate contributions and climate policy through his company Marginal Carbon and his sustainable investing through Milkywire.
Show Links:
Robert is an independent advisor working with companies and organizations on carbon removal, climate contributions, and climate policy, through his company Marginal Carbon AB…
Projects selected for the fund are evaluated against a detailed framework consisting of three pillars: carbon removal, restoring and protecting nature, and decarbonization. Our fund manager and program officer assess each project against rigorous selection criteria…
The UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) include ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’ among the 17, and this requires member nations to find practical solutions conducive to a shift. Mistra Sustainable Consumption is Mistra’s answer to this challenge, and the programme tackles vital components of our consumption: food, holidays and interior decoration…
108: Robert Höglund, Climate Advisor
Episode Audio Links:

ACC #108 – Robert Höglund – A Climate Change with Matt Matern

You’re listening to A Climate Change this is Matt Matern, your host we’ve got a great guest coming on the program today, Robert Höglund.

You’re listening to Dave “Smoota” Smith’s, “Save It: The Mother Earth Boogie,” our opening intro to the show Dave sent it to us to play on the show. Thanks to Dave and check out Dave on his Spotify and Apple Music. Also check out us at aclimatechange.com We also are on Spotify and Apple Music. Also send us your questions we’d love to hear from you!

The purpose of A Climate Change is to bring world class leaders and thinkers and doers to engage our listeners to empower our audience to act and volunteer invest and vote in a way that protects our environment. To that objective.

We’re having Robert Höglund on the program today who’s a cutting edge thinker, doer and leader. So Robert heads up Marginal Carbon, he wrote a paper removing carbon now He also led a movement in Sweden that helped establish a world leading goal to reduce Swedish consumption based upon greenhouse gas emissions.

And first they had to measure the amount of consumption based upon emissions. And as I read from Robert studies, they were showing about 11 tonnes of consumption per year of carbon from just the consuming of products made outside of Sweden and then approximately six tonnes per person in 2012. From the production of things within Sweden, which is 17 tonnes a person, which was quite a lot.

And then Sweden’s kind of on the cutting edge they one of the cities, Gothenburg probably mispronouncing that set a target by 2035 of bringing that down to 3.5 tonnes of carbon or CO2 equivalents per person, which is a pretty audacious goal.

So in addition to creating new world leading standards and goals Robert’s a fund manager of Milkywire, and Milkywire focuses on investing in the most impactful sustainable climate projects and creating a portfolio.

So there’s a number of exciting technologies that Milkywire is investing in, such as carbon capture an SF San Francisco companies heirloom as well as silicate which takes waste minerals, and spreads it in the fields to capture CO2.

So some amazing work that Robert’s engaged in, we’re talking about technologies that could capture hundreds of millions of tonnes of carbon and our CO2 emissions each year now, we’ve got 35 billion tonnes that were emitted in 2020. So we’ve got a long way to bring that down. But this is definitely a move in the right direction. Robert, welcome to the program. Thanks for coming on.

Thank you glad to be here.

Tell us a little bit about the work that you’re doing. In Sweden particular, let’s start off with that in the production in the consumption of carbon and focusing on that goal, because I think it’s something that many of us have not focused on, we don’t necessarily think of the impact beyond our borders, and the fact that we’re buying products in China or made in other places that have a very substantial carbon footprint before they ever hit the shores of our of our country.

So the most common way to calculate the country’s emissions, it’s the production based approach, where you look at what happens within the country, all the industries and the cars and production within the country. But in addition to that, you’re also as you say, importing a lot of products and those have emissions to and you’re also exporting them.

For a country like the US the numbers for export and import are similar. Your emissions from a consumption based on a production based perspective is not so different. But as your domestic emissions goes down, and maybe other countries don’t have as ambitious plans.

China plans to have about the same emissions by 2030 years today, the consumption based emissions might be much higher than what happens when within the country. Ever a country like Sweden and also United Kingdom, Switzerland, Luxembourg, small, smaller places that have also import a lot of other things. The consumption based emissions are much higher than what happens within the country.

So the sort of largest footprint in those countries are from with outside the country because it’s final consumption within Sweden of buildings and goods and services and food, etc. that’s causing those emissions even though they’re produced in other countries.

And what I did in 2015, there was a start a coalition of organizations NGOs, like WWF, and others in Sweden, that have been pushing the government to add a target to also Addressing these emissions from power consumption, there’s a lot a country can do to try to shift its consumption to be more environmentally friendly in terms of different types of policies can be things to do with the with tax, can be building code, how you calculate emissions from buildings can be the public procurement, etc.

And we worked on for a long time and and finally, there was a environmental committee and all the parties in Parliament agreed that we should have a target like that, but still hasn’t become law. It’s a new government that was already waiting for it to be become law. But it’s been very good publicized and well known in Sweden now.

And there is this course, parliamentarian agreements hopefully will also become become a new target and have stronger strategies to address it. And it becomes also more important if you’re decarbonizing more and more yourself, and but the ones that you’re trading from are not, let’s similar to how companies work with Scope Three.

They have their indirect emissions, many companies have most of their emissions happening outside their own supply chain. So they’re not they’re buying goods and services and other things from other companies. And that’s their Scope 3 Emissions. And for many companies, 99 or 95, presented revisions comes from scot free, and it’s similar to consumption based emissions is for countries.

Right, I think it’s very important to look at, take a hard look at where these emissions are coming from. So we can do a better job of reducing them. And one of those ways is kind of looking down the supply chain and picking the places that produce things the most ethically and with the least amount of environmental impact.

And so the more we look and then choose manufacturers that have a lower carbon footprint, then they’re starting to compete on a different basis than just price or quality of goods, but to actually do it in a environmentally safe way.

Yeah, exactly. So what are the things that are going to be done, say in Sweden, what is part of this legislation that would encourage Swedish companies, individuals, as consumers, as well as governmental entities to change their behavior to look down the supply chain and change the companies they’re working with or encourage them to act cleaner and greener?

Well, all the policies that will be needed to fulfill the goal wasn’t part of the proposal. So it’s something that we need to come later. And hopefully, this new government is going to adopt it, although it’s it’s different parties in government now than when this environmental committee came up with this. But but as I said, although it’s of course, parliamentarian agreement on it, so hopefully, still will happen.

But some of the things that could be done are, for example, having lower prices on things like repairing things, making it easier for the circle economy, benefits for sharing, sharing services, like sharing cars, or tools, etc. But I think a lot, many of the big emissions come from, let’s say, public procurement.

So when the public sector procures a lot of things like food and buildings and cars, etc, if they have strong demands that they need to bring those down, bring their own scope for emissions down and select suppliers that have have low emissions, then that would have a huge effect.

Currently, there is no such demand. And I don’t think any countries have that. There’s probably a some paragraph saying you should take into account environmental part, but it’s price that’s steering the proper procurement. I think another good example is the building sector where Sweden there is there is a need to know how much emission you have per building.

So there is a new requirement. And there’s also proposals from a governmental agency that you can introduce targets that are getting stricter every year, for how many grams of emission or kilos or tons of permission, you can have per square feet per square meter of a new building.

So it progressively becomes stricter and stricter. And that’s also that’s something that would save a huge amount of emission, but a lot of those emissions are coming from other countries today because imported goods and materials so that’s also an example.

And then on flights is another another one where you need to introduce taxes for reducing consumption of flights, but also to to do for example, sustainable aviation political feel or cover removal to make up for those those types that are happening right here.

I hear there’s a new word in Swedish, which relates to people who take the train instead of flying and telling people about “hey, I’m taking the train instead of flying and saving some emissions.”

Yeah, “flygskam,” you’re thinking about the shame of flying, the shame of fly. You know, I guess we haven’t gotten to that point quite yet in the US. Unfortunately, our rail system is third world.

So it’s really hard for an American to take the train or it’s certainly more challenging than say if you lived in Europe or in Japan, where you have incredible train systems. Actually, Ukraine has a better train system than the United States. Which is kind of telling you a little bit about state of our train system.

Well, you’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, your host, and we’ll be right back in just one minute with Robert Höglund and talking about removing carbon from our system. And what are the best ways of doing this Roberts an expert in this area and we’ll talk to him in just one minute, about some great ideas he has.

This is A Climate Change, this is Matt Matern, and I’ve got Robert Höglund on the program.

Robert, you’ve just described some efforts in Sweden to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions in the country as well as in the supply chain and consuming products.

I am wondering if just a straight carbon tax is maybe the most efficient way of doing this certainly been floated here in the US, but has been kind of shot down on many occasions or put on the back burner. Isn’t that really the most efficient way for us to push both consumers and producers in the right direction, encourage the right behavior?

A carbon tax is, is a good measure to be implemented. Sweden has had one for several decades, and it’s about $100 per ton. And but it’s mostly applied on the sale of, of fuels. So gasoline and diesel, heating oil, etc. It has we don’t do any heating oil anymore. So we don’t warm up our houses with with oil that’s completely phased out. And I think the carbon tax helped a bit, but it’s also the oil crisis 40-50 years ago, but there has had an effect on driving.

So I think analysis showed that driving will be the emissions from from road sector will be even higher without the carbon tax, but but the tax wasn’t enough to sort of shift everyone’s electric vehicles because they weren’t cheap electric vehicles.

So I think a tax works if there’s an alternative, if there is no easy alternative than many times people just pay more, it depends on what it is. And economists will tell you a lot more about this and the elasticity of different sort of goods and services. And it’s not enough on its own, you also need to have the alternative something to do instead, such as electric cars that are reasonably priced.

Right. I noticed when I was in Amsterdam, as well as Copenhagen that so many people rode their bikes everywhere. I mean, it’s really so much more of a bike. And how do we encourage people in the US to ride their bikes places and and save a lot of gas that way?

Definitely. It’s hard to recreate those sort of medieval infrastructures that were in in Europe. But I think there’s a lot of things that can be done in the US as well.

Well, it’s kind of fascinating that the medieval infrastructure encourages good modern behavior.

And it can be any city that was built before the invention of the car, like this looks a lot better. And it’s a lot more livable, in my opinion, than the cities that were built, post sort of the introduction of the automobile.

You know, you’re not going to get an argument from me on that front. So we’re gonna have to move on to something else. Tell us a little bit about Milkywire, you’re a fund manager there, and tell us what Milkywire is and what you’re doing with that project.

Milkywire is the impact platform that gets more funds into environmental organizations and helps companies support good projects and good reporting back. Two years ago, I set up a fund for Milky, which is a charitable fund. It’s not an equity fund. And it’s called Climate Transformation Fund. And companies are donating to that based on internal carbon fee. So the taxing themselves voluntarily.

And we’re using the money to help reach global climate targets through both grants to effective organizations but also pre purchases of cover mobile. So it’s within three areas. It’s doable, cover mobile, so new technologies that are needed to help get to net zero and that sector is very underdeveloped today, and very nascent.

Most companies are still in the lab and coming up with new ideas and by supporting them you can kick started and help those solutions become viable. and also restoring and protecting nature, we have a lot of problems with deforestation and potential also to restore carbon into into trees.

And then thirdly, probably started working directly on decarbonization. So both technical projects, but mostly advocacy and policy. So there’s a lot of research groups that have showed that the most cost effective way of spending your climate dollars is often to support organizations that are pushing for tougher policy, getting more money into climate solutions, working on advocacy and policy around the world.

So we should be giving to organizations that are affecting policy changes at the governmental level, because that will drive change?

It’s part of it. Yeah, as one of the effective solutions. And to this fund the there’s a bunch of corporate donors done. So Klarna, Swedish FinTech, and Spotify, as you know, you’re on as well also donated to, to the fund.

And we’re now selecting our products for 2023 to be supportive, and have done a call for proposals and talk to a lot of exciting companies within cover and mobile and decompensation and forest protection, and are getting ready to support these these solutions, this year.

So how many companies are you currently working with are being funded through Milkywire?

I think it’s 17 projects. And we’ll probably add another 12 or so some disappears since we’re not funding everyone continuously. But yeah, somewhere around a bit over 25. Maybe that’s going to be total?

And how much money have you been able to put into these companies?

This year, it’ll be bit over $5 million. That’s for 2023. And since it’s just been active for two years, so it’s about I think, $2.7 million, mostly from Klarna, which is the one that we started this with the previous two years.

Well, that’s impressive for a start up. So what’s the goal? What how do you expect to build this out? Or what are your targets for five years out, 10 years out?

This is an alternative to pure offsetting where you’re just making a one to one buying a carbon credits, and I’m making a claim that your your carbon neutral, and instead of focusing on making team, you’re you’re focusing on maximizing your impact, getting as much bang for the buck as possible.

And we hope to grow that as a as a concept. And we see that others are now also taking it on and talking about in the same way. But so that’s encouraging, working with entities that are setting up more sort of public standards and targets for how this can be done in a good way and expanded.

But our fund, we also hope to grow. And I think we’re seeing good good progress in that. And I think there is a lot of room to to scale climate finance to many billions of dollars. And something like this where where companies are donating to climate solutions could could definitely grow to be a multi-billion solution and how a large part of that Milkywire fund will be that we’ll see. I think we’ll continue to have a good growth for sure.

Explain to us how this has a greater impact, bang per buck, than, say getting carbon offsets.

Carbon credits?

Carbon credits, sorry.

They’re also called carbon offsets. So it’s absolutely fine. They are of various products that go to various products such as avoided emissions from renewable energy has been a very common one also avoided emissions from stopping deforestation.

And what we’ve seen in study after study is that these credits have a very hard time of living up to the promise that they actually avoid or remove one ton of carbon.

And there’s many well publicized news articles in The Guardian, for example, say 90% of avoided emission credits were not effective. Previously, we’ve seen 85% of credits, and overall, especially like wind energy and solar energy that where we saw that the products were happening anyway, and there was just a small extra income.

So you were not actually getting more avoided emissions or the effects was much smaller than was advertised. So it’s quite difficult to have the kind of effect that’s advertised.

And if you take that into account, you might not be very cost effective, although we’re not ruling out using credits. And some of these products, especially carbon removal products, will also issue a credit so we’re not against carbon credits.

It’s just that if you tie yourself to only buying credits, and you missing out on a lot of very good and cost effective projects, and you also need to be critical and not just trust something just because it’s certified by a carbon standard that sort of says that ithis is a certified product, that’s not enough, as we’ve seen in a lot of investigations.

Well, it’s fascinating. I mean, this area is moving so quickly. For those of us who are not experts, it’s helpful to have a guide to shepherd us through this process. One of the things that you’re working on is restoring nature and planting trees. What are the types of projects you’re doing in that area?

The things that we found that there is tied to probably started very much on the ground and done with peoples, by the people who are living on the land and on their conditions.

So one project we found that is Just Dig It, which is supporting farmers in Tanzania with education on how they can get more trees on their own land, which is something many farmers want, because it’s helpful to agriculture and gets more shade and waters retention, and is productive for them.

And they got training in how to prune bushes and shrubs, etc, to grow them into more mature trees, under the conditions that they are, and they can see later on that this is a effective intervention. These types of education measures are increasing the number of trees on these farmers lands, but it’s not with their they set the conditions they if they want to do it. They do it and it’s not a carbon credit project where they pay someone to to plant trees, you’re actually educating people to to do something that they they have an interest in.

This is a very sustainable project is called the method is called farmer managed natural restoration. And other products are also working very close with communities where they’re getting trees, reforestation, in a way that’s suiting their needs. So I think that’s the most sustainable way.

Well, certainly we wanted to have the people on the ground actually directing it in part because they’re the ones who are actually going to be living with these challenges. And to the extent they’re fully invested in the process that’s going to have better results than like some organization comes their plant some trees and leaves.

You’re listening to A Climate Change is Matt Matern, your host I’m gonna be right back in one minute with Robert Höglund, an expert in removing carbon from the atmosphere and investing in great solutions to help us reach our carbon goals. We’ll be right back in just one minute.

You’re listening to A Climate Change and I’ve got Robert Höglund on the program. Robert, we were just talking about many of the different projects you’re working on. One of them relates to carbon removal.

Can you tell us a little bit about that process? And what are the types of projects you’re working on? And why are they important?

Carbon removal is taking CO2 out of the atmosphere and storing it in a durable way. That’s different from avoiding emissions, where it’s based on a counterfactual that if we wouldn’t have done this intervention, these emissions would have continued.

So companies that remove carbon are physically taking it out of the atmosphere where someone emitted it before. And it’s also different from what’s called carbon capture and storage, which sounds like the same thing. But it’s used to, to describe a process where you capture carbon, for example, from a coal plant from a cement plant where it’s fossil emissions, and you capture that the smokestack, you don’t let it out in atmosphere and then take it out.

So carbon removal can be done in various ways. And we can go through that in a second. But bottom line is that is needed to reach global netzero. Which means that you don’t have to have as much removal as you have emissions. And it’s going to be difficult to scale up removal a lot because we have 35 billion tons of CO2 being emitted.

So it’s not going to remove all of that we need to reduce emissions with you know, maybe up to 90% first and then use current rule for the rest reach net zero. But if you don’t reach net zero state and warming continues, it’s not enough to reduce emissions, even with with very large amounts, that you need to have that counterbalancing that net zero and that’s why carbon removal is crucial. And it could also be used to bring temperatures back down.

If you want to do that. Once you reach Net Zero to go into the net negative state, removing more carbon that is emitted every year which will have the effect of lowering temperatures although that slowly, of course.

So in terms of carbon removal processes, what are the types of projects that your organization is working on?

We’re trying to support a wide range of carbon removal projects because it sounds clear that we need a portfolio of solutions. And the different types of methods that are available have inherent limitations in terms of land use or energy use, for example, and the portfolio approach makes it possible to get more carbon, without running into those limitations quicker.

The carbon removal sector and industry is very new. It’s very nascent, of course, trees have been capturing carbon for as long as the Earth has been here, almost. But that’s limited by land, it will be part of the solution. But we also need other solutions.

So one example is direct air capture, you’re sucking CO2 out of the air, for air with fans through, for example, a filter, then that filter is tuned to to CO2 molecules capture that, and then you seal that off, have it in a vacuum, heat the filter up and releasing CO2 again, now it’s a pure strain of CO2. And then you can store it underground, for example, and then repeat the process.

That’s very energy intensive, you need a lot of electricity for that. But it’s a quite straightforward way of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere. But the challenge, of course, is that it’s very dilute gas. Yeah, you need to pump a lot of air through those filters to capture safety.

In terms of price per ton for direct air capture, what kind of price per ton is the technology at right now. And what kind of level does it need to get to in order to become kind of an effective means of pulling carbon out of the atmosphere?

The holy grail number is $100 per ton. And almost all direct tech companies are saying that they will be able to reach that and maybe a decade or so. And that’s realistic, probably it’s close to what people are paying in the EU for the EU emission trading system.

It’s also Sweden’s carbon tax, it’s not I think if you reach that level, that it’s definitely going to be cheaper than a lot of the most expensive emission reductions. And it’s going to play a significant role, although it’s much more expensive than were avoided emission carbon credits are and what people are used to pay for, for carbon.

But that’s it’s not a good comparison. The cost today depends a lot on on the company says they’re doing this for the first time many of them, it’s basically paying for a prototype of first of a kind facility. And it’s going to be a lot more expensive than so now then we’re talking about, in most cases, over $500 per ton.

But then the volumes are very small, right we really paying for, for the Tesla Roadster prototype here. That’s not mass production.

Right. So are many governments giving any kind of subsidies to direct air capture or similar carbon removal processes to speed up the industrialization of it?

Yes, the US as the as the biggest supporter of carbon removal, recently introduced an Inflation Reduction Act where there is, for example, what’s called 45 Q, which is a payment to companies that use direct air capture to put CO2 in the ground for $180 per ton. Instead, direct payments, subsidy and they can sell the tons to someone else.

And that has gotten a lot of companies to start up to us to look to move to the US. And there’s other forms of support to us is planning for direct air capture hubs, which also include other technologies, where companies can work together to on both storage and capture and have renewable energy together and, and the government will pay for the hub.

So a lot of the hubs, the details are not known. But those types of ports are a really big internet in comparison to what existed before and the US is also giving a lot of R&D support.

Sweden is making procurement of another technology called BECCS. We already have a lot of bio mass emissions in our paper and pulp facilities, and district heating, etc. And those are emissions that come from trees that are already captured the carbon.

So if you if you capture that the smokestack, then you get negative emissions. And Sweden is procuring that and paying for carbon removal and doing that this year, it’s going to be about $200 million dollars per year. So that’s some example.

Oh, it’s good to hear that the US is leading the world once again. Well, it’s been a while since we’ve been doing it in the environmental sector. So kudos to the government for passing the IRA. You know, I’ve heard some people who are environmentalists kind of pushing back against carbon capture.

I don’t know if they they didn’t really make a distinction between carbon capture and carbon removal, the same that you did. Do you hear other environmentalists pushing back against carbon removal? And are you against carbon capture? Do you think that’s a fool’s errand for the fossil fuel companies?

Carbon capture is definitely also going to have a role. I think it doesn’t make much sense to do it on a coal plant for example, because there’s better and cheap cheaper alternatives. So it’s much cheaper to, to do it with nuclear or wind or solar and to and to capture the emissions from coal power plants.

But for cement factories, for example, it makes a lot of sense, it’s very difficult to decarbonize cement, and capturing the CO2 is definitely a solution that could be viable. There has been opposition, I would say, especially in the past from environmental movements, but it’s, it’s waning a lot, because I think it’s a lot of agreement on carbon removal is needed to reach Net Zero, sense competencies.

Everyone became aware that emission reductions are not sufficient, I think the opposition against carbon removal per se has been has been going down. There are still some groups that are not wanting to have the focus on these kind of technological solutions.

And these have all focused on the emission reductions. And it makes definitely sounds to put no most of the focus there. But unless we start building the interim niche solutions, as well, they won’t be available when we need them to reach net zero and in a couple of decades.

So we can’t ignore carbon removal today is on a tiny scale. And we need to grow faster than wind and solar did to reach the even limited role. Envision for it to reach net zero.

So we need to invest a lot in in that as well. And I think you’re doing everyone a disservice if you’re pitting, cover mobile against emission reductions, as some people are doing, because they definitely need both.

Yeah, I’m kind of of the same camp, it seems like some kind of almost religious position to say we shouldn’t do carbon capture, because it’s going to encourage fossil fuel companies to continue to emit.

Well, we do know that fossil fuel companies are going to continue to emit. So that’s just a fact of life, we may not like it. But if we can take some of those emissions out of the system, then we’re all benefiting from it.

The bottom line is we’ve got a goal that we’ve got to reach and any way that we can get there seems like a reasonable approach to be it part of the solution.

Yep, for sure.

So where do you see this going from here in terms of what are the companies that you’re investing in, and think that are the market leaders are certainly some of the most exciting companies in this in this field?

Definitely see a lot of different technologies that are coming up. There’s many exciting ideas in direct air capture how this can be done in a more efficient way, in different climates with different material by producing other other things on the side of it like hydrogen.

And there’s still a need to come up with more ideas. We’re not at the stage where we say we found the best ones, we’ve scaled it up. So there is a need to support companies that are coming up with new ideas and still need support to R&D to come up with better things.

And then yes, get get this tested in the real world. That’s also what we do with the Milkywire transformation fund. Making pre-purchases of these early carbon removal companies so that they can go out test their idea, see if it’s viable to try to bring the cost down and make it more, make it easier to reach these. These levels of carbon removal that we need to help reach Net Zero further.

Well, it sounds like great work there. Robert, appreciate your work on that front to give funding to some of these companies that aren’t yet ready to have a marketable product. But hopefully we’ll get there over time.

So you’re listening to A Climate Change. We’ll be right back in just one minute with Robert to wrap up and talk about exciting stuff Robert is working on all over the world.

You’re listening to A Climate Change. I’ve got Robert Höglund on the program. Robert’s got an incredible background.

One of the things that he’s on the Mistra Sustainable Consumption board. He’s also on the EU carbon removal expert group, as well as the Science Based Targets’ technical advisory group. They all have fancy titles. So it’s got to be important work that you’re doing over there. Robert, tell us a little bit about what’s going on there.

Yeah, those are various roles, right? I think there is trying to raise ambitions and do the transition in a better way. Mistra Sustainable Consumption is a research project research program led by KTH, it’s a University in Sweden, trying to find new ways to scale and mainstream sustainable consumption practices.

So, since I’ve been involved in this work in Sweden to get new targets and involved with a lot of organizations, so it was it was natural to us to help out there and it’s been encouraging to see all the risks such that’s ogoing on how also consumption can become more sustainable. And that also ties in a bit to the Science Based Target initiative.

So I was also part of the advisory group that helped develop the net-zero standard. And the Science Based Target Initiative is something that verifies targets for companies and set standards for how to the climate targets can be done in an a credible way. And it’s very, sort of well revered among companies and the highest, the group that definitely have the strongest reputation around that.

And a lot of companies that will look to the Science Based Target Initiative and look at what standards they’re setting. And on the zero standard, companies need to reduce their emissions up to 90%. Before they can use carbon removeal, permanent carbon removal, to neutralize the last 10% and reach net zero. But they also encourage companies to do what they call Beyond Value Chain Mitigation before that, so supporting climate projects to help reach global global net zero faster.

And that’s what the fund at Milkywire does that we talked about before. It’s basically Beyond Value Chain Mitigation in a way that we set up for this purpose. And now the size based target is also working on further guidance on how to incentivize companies to do Beyond Value Chain Mitigation.

Because previously, if you’re buying carbon credits, you could say that we’re carbon neutral or something like that. And that’s an incentive. It’s sort of easy to do. But as we discussed, it’s not always the most effective thing.

So how do you incentivize companies to support climate projects? What are the different types of projects that can be supported? How do you generate funds for that? And then we have a proposing the internal carbon fee as as a good as a good way of doing it, where companies tax themselves voluntarily and use the money to support projects.

And yeah, the Science Based Targets are working on this guidance. And I’m one of the bigger advisory group putting input into that. But it ties a lot into the work that I’m doing on the other areas as well, especially with the Milkywire fund.

So tell us how did you come up with the net zero standard? What was the process of doing that?

So does the Science Base Targets I’ve worked on that for a number of years, and I’m just an advisory group, so giving some input on it. And there’s a strong need for common language and common rules for what is net zero because it can be done in many ways.

And the Science Based Targets basically said that we want a net zero standard that focuses on emission reductions, but also safeguards, that the removals that are used are of high quality and as permanent carbon removal. And that’s why they they sort of set out that companies need to reduce their emissions with with 90% first, and then you can use cover more.

Because otherwise, you know, some companies have been maybe claiming net zero on the basis of just planting trees or, or maybe buying traditional carbon credits. That’s not sufficient. If you’re everyone’s does that and the world is not reaching net zero. At some point you only need you can only do cover removal, because there’s no emission reduction still left to do, but that’s quite far away.

So supporting emission reductions within unbroken companies or countries is still important. But that can be done now under the Beyond Value Chain Mitigation umbrella. Rather than using those things to count as fulfilling your own targets, you need to do your own emission reductions as well, but should also help finance finance them in other places, even though it’s not that easy to find cost effective products on reducing other people’s emissions.

So a company needs, or a country needs to get an 90% reduction in their actual emissions in order to get to net zero, and then they could do a 10% carbon credit, or I guess, carbon capture,.

Yeah, call removal. Carbon capture could be a larger share, because then you’re not admitting it, you’re stopping the mission at the factory, for example.

But I do think that 90/10 can be a sort of a good rule, but certain sectors such as aviation, might have to do like 100% removals, or it depends on what’s most effective if it’s sustainable aviation fuel, electric fuels, or if it’s covered mobile.

So, I do think that there will be some more flexibility later on to to address these kind of things to where certain sectors are harder to abate and might make more sense to to do carbon removal and other sectors might be able to fully decarbonized without using any carbon removsal essentially.

So tell us being from Sweden, do you know Greta Thunberg? Have you met her?

I’ve seen her. I never talked to her but I don’t know personally.

Okay, well geez, you know, we’re out here in California. We’re all about celebrities. So you know you can don’t blame me for asking. Anyway, you know, she certainly has led an exciting movement there. I think it goes to what has been going on in Sweden for a lot of years in terms of environmental activism as a good seedbed for activist who would say?

Yeah, I mean, that’s the work that she’s been doing, I think really, really helped accelerate the transition across the world, not just in Sweden. So yeah, that’s very encouraging.

So where do you see the movement leaning in the future? I mean, what are the trends? What are the things that you think are most important to be supporting going forward?

Are you talking about sort of environmental groups, the activists, or in general?

In general. What are the things trends that you, you want to be behind? And, obviously, we’ve talked about some of them already.

Yeah, I personally can’t focus on everything. I think my scope is a bit too wide already. But I want to help accelerate carbon removal and get more money into this very, very small sector, its people will be shocked to know how small it is.

So it was just 16 companies that bought bought more than 1,000 tons of carbon removal in 2022, which is absolutely nothing, right, it’s still very few early adopters that are going in and supporting CDR. And even though there’s some governmental support, the level of support needs to scale, you know, many orders of magnitude for it to be a solution that fulfills that role.

And also, I enjoy working on the things that are solving some of the issues on how to do that. And the best way sort of conceptually, but that’s an important thing. Another important factor is getting more support overall to climate solutions, not just carbon removal, both from companies, but from also from countries and escaping the finance.

You see a lot of countries that also have sort of conditional targets that we can reach these emissions reductions, if we, if we can get more support from other countries.

And then, you know, scaling technologies that are phasing out fossil fuels. We need to first or foremost decarbonize the grid. And I think solutions, like nuclear power, and wind, and solar are super important in that, and they need to be scaled up massively. And there needs to be a lot of reforms when it comes to permitting and you need new transmission lines.

And it’s such a physical challenge, right, like replacing all the infrastructure that has been in place for decades and building a lot more electricity. It’s extremely challenging. The US is planning to do a lot of this and it’s pushing ahead, and there’s a lot of money available, but now running into other issues that even though you have the money, you might have difficulties building because of how difficult that is to get the permits to getting appeals from neighbors, you’re having very difficulty building this transmission lines across states, etc.

And I think other countries will have similar problems. And that’s a new foe in the fight against climate change. It’s not just enough to get the money. It’s not enough to get everyone on the same page. You still need to have a system that can fill all these blanks as well.

Yes, the scope of the challenges that faces are truly immense, and it’s heartening to me that we’ve got a lot of great people working on this, you among many, and I appreciate the great work that you’re doing and everybody check out Robert Höglund check out his company, Marginal Carbon, as well as Milkywire. It’s been fascinating talking to you, Robert, and wish you all the best going forward.

Certainly, we want to collaborate with the best thinkers and doers out there in the world. And I really appreciate what you had said about sometimes you think your scope is a little bit too wide and you want to kind of narrow it down so that you can have the greatest effect, and I appreciate the kind of self awareness there.

I can relate to that some of us like to bite off more than we can chew because we want to want to help, and yet sometimes narrowing our focus may lead to even better and more effective work on our part.

So best of luck to you going forward. Everybody check out aclimatechange.com Take a look at some of our older episodes and download those. Robert, best of luck to you going forward and certainly wish you all the best.

Thank you. Great speaking to you.

Well, you’ve been listening to A Climate Change is Matt Matern, your host, join us next week. Check us out as I said at aclimatechange.com Have a great day everybody.

 

(Note: this is an automatic transcription and may have errors in formatting and grammar.)

Help Us Combat Climate Change by Subscribing to our Newsletter!