Chair, Advisory Board of the Global CO2 Initiative
Bernard David is the founder of the Global CO2 Initiative and Chair of its Advisory Board. He has extensive experience in entrepreneurship and has written eight books about entrepreneurship and allied technology use.
Q: What role do you see carbon technology playing as we work towards achieving our climate goals?
A: CO2-based products can play a crucial role in achieving our climate goals of keeping to a 1.5-2 degree C change in temperature. The key aspects are to have these technologies in broad use as soon as possible. Since so many of these technologies are in early stage Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs), we need to find ways to scale RD&D from TRLs 1-9 quickly.
We also need to make sure that we are using less carbon in the process of producing these products than they are sequestering. Thus, the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) work that U-M is spearheading is critical. The world needs to adopt one unified approach to this LCA measurement in order to help to accelerate an understanding of how the carbon capture and sequestration actually work.
As we see technologies in the more advanced TRLs (4-6), we need to ensure that Techno-Economic Analysis (TEAs) are performed to show that these technologies can actually make money. If not, they will have no market support.
Currently, cement and concrete are the greatest potential products where CO2 can be sequestered for an almost infinite amount of time. We need to amp up commercially viable technologies into the TRL 7-9 level quickly. There are only two major competitors in the CO2-based cement and concrete markets. One has issues with the LCA not being able to show that it captures a significant amounts of CO2 while the other competitor needs to scale in the marketplace. If a cement/concrete sequestration technology truly scaled, it has the potential to capture 5-7% of the annual CO2 emissions. This level of sequestration is significant as one of the vehicles to achieve the climate goals set for the world in Paris.
Q: How do we drive and materialize the opportunity for economic growth and prosperity offered by a new carbon economy?
A: Funding. We raise more money to fund fund many more R&D projects—to the tune of billions of dollars a year—all over the world.
Shorten the Commercialization Process. We find ways to have the R&D process shortened—so that it doesn’t work on a 10-year horizon from idea to broad scale commercialization but happens rapidly in the single digit years.
Raise International Awareness. We raise international awareness of the potential for CO2-based products as a mitigation tool; one way is to get the word out on all media (social and otherwise) and the other is to be the “great convener” of all things in this market. We need to get the CO2 capture and CO2-based product dialogue to become central to all climate discussions.
Excite more researchers. We need to interest more researchers all over the world to pursue carbon-based technologies (both capture and use i.e. product creation) by showing them the value in so doing.
Q: What efforts have you seen internationally that you feel should be scaled broadly?
A: Out of the 200+ technologies that I’ve seen, there is only one that is currently advanced enough and in a large enough market that it can have a significant impact at the moment. We need to identify more possible efforts.
Q: What is one piece of knowledge or advice you want to share with students or entrepreneurs in this space?
A: You can make a real impact on the world by working in this space.
Q: What is missing in the debate?
A: Loud voices showing the world the economic opportunity and the climate impact—the grand double play.