The Reversing Climate Change podcast with Nori
A podcast about the different people, technologies, and organizations that are coming together to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reverse climate change. We also talk about blockchains.

#16: Dr. Julio Friedmann, CEO of Carbon Wrangler

March 20, 2018


“People are saying, ‘Oh, we can’t even talk about carbon removal. It might reduce our need for mitigation.’ Hey, math is math. If you can do arithmetic you can figure this out, and if you KNOW that we need to do carbon removal to get to a stable, just transition, to get to an ecosystem-sustained world—it’s the math. Put some money into it. Start the work. Don’t talk to me whether it’s a moral hazard or not, get on with it. We’ve got things to do.”

Dr. Julio Friedmann is the CEO of Carbon Wrangler and a Distinguished Fellow of the Energy Futures Initiative. He also served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Fossil Energy at the US Department of Energy, where his portfolio included research and programs in clean coal and carbon management, oil and gas systems, and international engagements in clean fossil energy. In his earlier role as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Clean Coal and Carbon Management, Dr. Friedmann focused on clean coal and carbon capture, utilization and storage.

Dr. Friedmann joins Ross and Christophe to define his role as a carbon wrangler and why it’s important, walking us through the current climate math and sharing his insight on reframing carbon in the atmosphere as a resource to be mined. They discuss the best approach to inspiring progress around climate change, the fundamentals of carbon capture and storage, and the differences among offsets, onsets and insets. Listen in to understand the benefits of modular technology and learn Dr. Friedmann’s take on the new carbon economy.


Dr. Friedmann on Twitter

Dr. Friedmann on Medium

“Offsets, Onsets, and Insets: More is More” by Dr. Julio Friedmann


Reykjavík Energy CarbFix Project

“Carbon is Not the Enemy” by William McDonough

Opus 12

“Capture of Carbon Dioxide from Ambient Air” by K.S. Lackner

Key Takeaways

[3:53] The definition of a ‘carbon wrangler’

  • Keeping CO2 out of atmosphere, pulling back
  • Important because on 2.7-3.5° trajectory
  • Must drop emissions by 15 gigatons in 12 years to stabilize

[5:36] The current climate math

  • People emit 53 gigatons per year
  • 75% energy sector, fossil fuels
  • 25% land use
  • Continue with mitigation AND carbon removal

[8:07] The growing acceptance of adaptation and carbon removal

  • Clear that mitigation alone not enough
  • Invest in all strategies to deal with climate change

[9:45] Dr. Friedmann’s insight on the way forward

  • Go farther on solar, wind, efficiency, nuclear, capture and storage
  • Clean up carbon in atmosphere, reframe as resource to be mined

[12:21] How to inspire progress around climate change

  • Explain why there’s hope, what can be done
  • Provide other countries with technology

[15:52] The differences among offsets, onsets and insets

  • Offsets = mechanism set up by UN, trade and validate
  • Onsets = go on surface of the Earth (e.g.: reforestation)
  • Insets = into product or underground
  • Onsets and insets easier to measure

[22:19] The basics of CCS (carbon capture and storage)

  • Terminology developed by McDonough
  • Eliminate ‘fugitive emissions’ (i.e.: energy efficiency, conservation)
  • Create circular economy in atmosphere (e.g.: fuel)
  • Strict carbon removal to keep out of air, oceans

[26:11] Recent examples of advances in technology

  • Concrete delivers gigatons of abatement
  • Possibilities around carbon fiber
  • Solar panels that do work of 8K trees
  • Scale up as devices cheaper, tech improves

[31:22] The benefits of modular technology

  • Faster rate of innovation
  • Less expensive to test ideas

[34:32] The new carbon economy

  • Combination of carbon removal, carbon to value
  • Includes increased farm yields, monetizing afforestation
  • Companies that do waste management
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