WASHINGTON, DC—Resources for the Future (RFF) today released a new installment of Resources Radio: “Adding Subtraction to the Climate Toolkit: Discussing Carbon Dioxide Removal with Wil Burns.”
In this episode, host Daniel Raimi talks with Wil Burns, co-director of the Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy at American University and an expert on geoengineering strategies. Burns explores why existing public policies and corporate commitments are not doing enough to slow global temperature increases—and argues that carbon removal will be necessary for decarbonizing the global economy. While cautioning that some technologies currently impose high costs or pose substantial risks, Burns contends that carbon removal merits more attention from policymakers.
Notable quotes from the podcast:
- Current decarbonization efforts are not yet doing enough: “If you look at the Paris Agreement, which calls for us to reduce temperatures well below 2° Celsius … there is a massive gap between [that] and what we're doing. And when I say massive, I mean somewhere between 15 to 20 billion tons of carbon dioxide between what we should be reducing emissions by and what we are reducing emissions by … At least at this point, we lack the political resolve to do what would be necessary to decarbonize the economy in a way that comports with what Paris is calling for.” (8:44)
- Corporate support can help make carbon storage viable, but is not forthcoming: “If corporate initiatives really start picking up steam, it may be that that provides a lot of the private sector funding that's critical to characterize these and determine which ones might be most viable. But it's a major challenge. These things aren't likely to be adopted by corporations with the price of carbon that we have right now, and the fact that they have to compete with fossil fuels that are still massively subsidized.” (17:19)
- Expanding carbon storage discussions: “Countries are only starting to discuss [carbon storage], and they're doing it with great hesitation. Going back to one of the things you said at the beginning: Why aren't we just decarbonizing our economy? A lot of these countries make that argument, though of course simultaneously while not decarbonizing their economies. So I think in the next couple of years, you will start to hear more discussion of governance than you have, but at this point it's largely academics that are making those arguments.” (26:39)
Resources for the Future (RFF) is an independent, nonprofit research institution in Washington, DC. Its mission is to improve environmental, energy, and natural resource decisions through impartial economic research and policy engagement. RFF is committed to being the most widely trusted source of research insights and policy solutions leading to a healthy environment and a thriving economy.
Unless otherwise stated, the views expressed here are those of the individual authors and may differ from those of other RFF experts, its officers, or its directors. RFF does not take positions on specific legislative proposals.
For more information, please refer to our media resources page.