Michael Crabb [00:10:43] Welcome to another episode of the Energy Impact Podcast. My guest today is Robert Höglund, a Climate Advisor at Marginal Carbon. Robert, great to have you on.
Robert Höglund [00:10:53] Yeah, great to be here. Thanks.
Michael Crabb [00:10:55] So, before we hear about Marginal Carbon and everything you're working on today, tell us more about yourself. Where are you from?
Robert Höglund [00:11:03] I'm from Stockholm, Sweden, but currently living in different places. My wife's a diplomat. So, right now I'm in Bangkok, but we've been in Jakarta as well before. So, going back and forth to various places around the world.
Michael Crabb [00:11:19] Wow. So, did you grow up in Sweden then?
Robert Höglund [00:11:21] Yeah.
Michael Crabb [00:11:22] Okay. For how long? Like, 10 years, 30 years?
Robert Höglund [00:11:26] No, I mean, the diplomat stuff is when I got married, basically. So essentially, 29 years or something, minus traveling, but not living abroad.
Michael Crabb [00:11:40] Okay. Fantastic. Tell us about your education path. Did you know what you wanted to study? How did you end up in climate?
Robert Höglund [00:11:49] Yeah, the climate part wasn't really part of the education to start with. I started out in the communications world, really. I started in comms and then started working in the NGO sector, working for large international NGOs on sort of PR, communication campaigns. And then going into climate in about 2015, where I started something called the Climate Goal Initiative, a network or coalition that brought together 22 organizations to get Sweden to adopt a new target to also reduce emissions from consumption. So, essentially like Sweden's Scope 3 emissions, what happens in other countries. That there should be targets and measures to do that. So, a lot of big end deals.
Robert Höglund [00:12:34] And Sweden has an agreement to do it, but it's not law yet. So hopefully, it'll actually become a become part of it. But yeah, I started that network, and then I worked at Oxfam, which is a big INGO and could continue working with climate policy for Oxfam. And from there, going into more carbon removal and how companies both can continue with that.
Michael Crabb [00:12:57] Interesting. What drove you to switch from sort of a broader communications focus to climate, specifically?
Robert Höglund [00:13:10] What motivates me is to try to help solve difficult problems that are important for the world and bring about impact. And to me personally, I felt it was a bit more tangible and clearer to work on actual issues that have things like policy objectives. We want Sweden to adopt this target. It's quite clear if we succeed with this that it leads to something. If we get more companies to support climate projects, that has a very tangible impact. If we can develop new carbon removal products, then it becomes more concrete. And it's very clear what I've done to help advance action towards reaching the global climate targets, which is one of the biggest challenges, of course, that humanity faces. Whereas, when you're just working with comms, especially if you do branding or PR, it can be a little bit more unclear exactly what you're contributing to, even though it can be very important as well.
Michael Crabb [00:14:06] Yeah, there's certainly value in storytelling, of course. But could you be maybe a little more specific? Was there like a particular article or book or driver of that switch, or was it sort of an aggregate of reading about things? In 2015, it wasn't such an obvious... There weren't the tailwinds in 2015 as there are today.
Robert Höglund [00:14:32] Maybe it goes back to being interested in sort of big problems and sort of what are the ways that people are working to solve them. I got involved in a network that was working on more sustainable growth or putting sustainability before growth. So, sort of a bit of a growth-skeptic back in that time. And then, sort of saw that it was illogical that Sweden did not care at all about the emissions that were outside of country in their official policies and their targets. So, it was identifying a gap and then seeing like, "Okay, I can actually get involved here and I could start doing something." So, that was the first way in, although before it I was still sort of engaged in sustainability, like writing about it, etc., but not exactly working in it.
Robert Höglund [00:15:23] And so, for me it was more identifying like, "Okay, I can have a big marginal impact here. There's a chance for me; no one else is actually doing this." And I would say that was kind of the first transition into climate. And the second one is on carbon removal. And there, this new industry started to emerge and I was interested in it. So, I started looking up answers to the questions I couldn't find answers to. When I worked at Oxfam, we were also interested in it, both from Oxfam and Sweden's perspective as something that organizations should actually go and support, but also from the international perspective where maybe there's more suspicion about it.
Robert Höglund [00:16:01] So, I started and wrote together a paper that became a discussion paper that was published by Oxfam in 2020, "Removing Carbon Now: Looking Into How Companies and Individuals Can Help Fund or Support Carbon Removal Products." And I think that was sort of a good entry point where I saw that, "Okay, this new field is interesting. There are a lot of unsolved questions that not too many people are working on. There's a lot of stuff to do here. The industry doesn't really exist. There are a few early companies. I could have a big marginal impact here because I'm interested in it and I started doing work." So, that's what I got into doing.
Michael Crabb [00:16:39] Cool. Tell us about some of those unsolved questions that people aren't focusing on.
Robert Höglund [00:16:44] The whole idea about carbon removal is needed. It's not exactly new, but it's become much more prominent in the sort of global debate since, let's say, after the IPCC 1.5 report in 2018, I think it was. And then like 2019, 2020, it started taking off. I think 2021 was when you saw a lot of media, sort of big media that previously never talked about carbon removal covering some of the early companies that were starting to do that.
Robert Höglund [00:17:20] There are so many questions around both sort of the technicalities, like which solutions are actually best at removing carbon and how can they be scaled up in a way that is sustainable, that doesn't create any sort of difficulties where you face risks or take too many resources, take too much land, etc. So, how do we develop completely new technologies that are effective at taking CO2 out of the air is kind of a technical problem. And we see a lot of exciting new solutions all the time with new companies that are sort of in the lab. A very promising approach, no one thought about that before. And it's not just sort of the ideas that are old and we knew how they were working, it's actually people coming up with completely new ideas.
Robert Höglund [00:18:09] But then there are lots of questions of like, "How can this be supported in the best way? How can we create it as the market? How big of a part of the market should private actors have? How should a government best support something like this? How do we make sure that carbon removal doesn't stop people from reducing their emissions? How should projects be governed? What are the ways that we should compare the longevity of carbon?" Like, some products are permanent. You take the CO2 out of the air, you store it underground forever as rock, for example. But other projects store it for a shorter duration of time. Can those even be compared? That's a question I thought a lot about and I've written a lot about. I think it's interesting.
Robert Höglund [00:18:48] And then also, what are the types of claims companies should be doing? What are the best strategies for companies that want to help reach governance here? Those are the types of things that I think are interesting in the work now.
Michael Crabb [00:19:01] Yeah, fascinating. Okay, well, a lot to peel back there. Tell us more about some of these interesting technologies. Which are you most excited about?
Robert Höglund [00:19:13] Well, a key thing is really that for carbon removal, we do need a portfolio approach because, essentially, every method runs into different problems of scalability when they are at very large scale. We might come up with a method that avoid that, but so far we do have a lot of possibilities to use photosynthesis to capture CO2, like trees and plants. You can do that in a way that also stores the carbon in a durable way. For example, if you take crop waste and heat it up over 600 degrees Celsius to make biochar, which is a stable form of carbon, then you can put that back into soils and have increased crop yields, etc. But that's limited to how much waste biomass you have. And if you're planting trees or crops to capture CO2 on land that you didn't use that for before, then it's something that holds it back.
Robert Höglund [00:20:07] For energy intensive solutions like direct air capture, it is sort of how fast can we build fossil-free energy and how much can we scale up from that point of view. Some of them have other resource constraints. And then, you can use minerals to capture CO2. Grinding up rocks like olivine, for example, capturing CO2 from the air. But then, it's more kind of limited to how many mines do you want to open? Like, how much rock do you have access to? So, the best planning scenario for setting up billions of tonnes of CO2 is going to utilize quite a lot of many different types of methods, because then you're not sort of overly pushing for one thing that runs into problems from from scale. So, it is kind of that portfolio approach.
Robert Höglund [00:20:56] But there are a lot of exciting innovations in, basically, all of these areas. Oceans, too. And maybe, the highest amounts of companies that are doing research are in the kind of technical, direct air capture side, like finding new ways of doing that. But yeah, we've seen a lot of action in all sides here.
Michael Crabb [00:21:17] Yeah, really cool. I skipped over it because I agree that carbon removal is a pretty critical piece, because otherwise all we're talking about is rate of change. But perhaps given the thesis of carbon removal, for our audience, why is it so important for the broader net zero goal?
Robert Höglund [00:21:41] So, as long as there are emissions going on, the earth continues to warm. It's not enough that emissions are starting to drop from 35, 40 billion tons to 10 billion tons, even though would be a huge decrease in emissions and something that would be extremely worth celebrating. You would still have warming going up year by year because you need to reach zero, essentially, to to have zero warming as well. And it's going to be very difficult to reach zero because there are a lot of emissions that we're not exactly sure about how we should reduce to zero. Some might be very expensive to do so. So, there is a need to also remove carbon to reach just the net zero stage.
Robert Höglund [00:22:22] It might also be that maybe you have emissions in some parts of the world like China or other parts, whereas the US might reach sort of close to zero emissions themselves. And then, you need you counterbalance to reach a global net zero, maybe because you have to sort of offset your trade emissions or something like that. And also, if you want to reduce the warming, like going back in time, maybe you reach two degree warming and you want to bring it back to 1.5, then also, you have to bring that carbon out of the atmosphere and back into the ground.
Michael Crabb [00:22:58] Yeah, I think that, to me, is the critical piece. Say you could snap your fingers and we could be at net zero new emissions, well, carbon dioxide is an incredibly stable molecule. We're going to continue to have warming. We would just change the rate of that increase. So yeah, I think that is lost in the sort of newsbite debate that we have as a society.
Robert Höglund [00:23:20] Yeah, exactly. I think a lot of people are not thinking about the climate. Too many might think that if emissions are reduced then temperatures are reduced too.
Michael Crabb [00:23:28] Yeah. Okay, well, tell us about what you do with Marginal Carbon. You kind of told us how the idea came about, but what are you sort of working to accomplish there?
Robert Höglund [00:23:39] Marginal Carbon is my company where I sort of conduct my business. Then I work with different clients. The biggest one is Milkywire, which is an impact platform based in Sweden, but working all over the world. It's set up to give more money to environmental causes and make giving easier, in both technical ways but also setting up funds that are selected good organizations. So, I've worked with Milkywire for more than two years now. I set up something called the Climate Transformation Fund, and I continue to manage it for Milkywire, where we basically have an alternative to offsetting supporting solutions to help reach global net zero. Companies are donating to this charitable fund, and then we're pre-purchasing or making offtake agreements for permanent carbon removal, supporting organizations within reforestation or protecting forests, like many grassroots organizations, for example, and then organizations working on decarbonization such as advocacy and policy projects like Clean Air Task Force, for example.
Robert Höglund [00:24:40] We have groups that have been conducting thousands of hours of research on what is the most cost-effective way of bringing about the transformation, like Giving Green, which is a great group. Their analysis shows that advocacy and policy organizations that have been effective and have a good track record are orders of magnitude more cost-effective in supporting when you want to bring down emissions. So, that's why we're also supporting those kinds of solutions.
Robert Höglund [00:25:08] So, it's a charitable fund. We're supporting organizations for the third year now. We just did a call for proposals. We're getting 240 applications from really good projects. So, I'm at work right now, evaluating those projects, talking to a lot of carbon removal companies, getting insights into new, super exciting approaches. And then, we're getting more donors as well on the corporate side. The fintech Klarna was the first donor. They're using internal carbon fees, sort of voluntarily taxing themselves. Microsoft does that as well, and some others. $100 per ton for Scope 1, 2, and travel and $10 for the rest, then using the money to support projects selected for this Climate Transformation Fund. And we have a bunch of other corporate donors as well.
Michael Crabb [00:25:54] Fascinating. Maybe talk a little bit about how some of this carbon accounting helps create a marketplace for this type of industry. Because I think there are quite a few people doing it on a voluntary basis. You have some SEC rumblings, at least here in the US, on turning that to be maybe a little bit more quasi-voluntary. Is that the most successful path, do you think, for creating... I don't want to say artificial demand, but pricing that externality?
Robert Höglund [00:26:26] Carbon accounting? Yeah, I do think it is quite important to make companies not only to just realize their impact, but also have a way of connecting their contribution to something. So, the basic idea is if you're causing emissions... You don't want to, but if you're a player in the global economy, you're going to have emissions from your purchases or whatever. You might be able to reduce them quickly depending on what industry you're in and also sort of how much of your emissions are with you rather than your suppliers. But then, you want to ideally do something about those missions that you weren't able to reduce.
Robert Höglund [00:27:07] And you can look at it from several ways. You can look at it from sort of what's the cost of these emissions in terms of the damage they cost? So, there's something called the social cost of carbon; I'm sure you know about it. Governments make their own calculations. Now, UK, US, and the German government are sort of hovering around $200 per ton in the sort of long-term global cost of one ton of CO2 emissions in terms of deaths and economic damage, etc. And then, it could be reasonable to say that a company that can afford should support climate products to pay that cost into climate products.
Robert Höglund [00:27:50] And you can also turn it on its head and sort of look at what's the cost of actually removing the emissions? Then, that's also going to be in that price range, like $100 to $200 long-term. Some of the technical solutions are much more expensive now, but if you look at biochar, for example, it's around $150. The problem there is that you don't have that much of a supply of carbon removal being removed today, so the best thing is actually to support new solutions and not care so much about how many tons you're getting, actually sort of going into where you think it's most impactful.
Robert Höglund [00:28:21] So, if you were taxing yourself, it's not the same as you're offsetting. You're getting a a lump sum of money and then you are just trying to spend that as the most effective way as possible by getting as much bang for your buck as possible. And that means that you're not making a neutrality claim right now, for example. You're saying that you're helping reach global global net zero. But carbon accounting is key to determining how much you're contributing.
Michael Crabb [00:28:52] And it's a funny... I guess you could call it a tragedy of the commons, right? As a global problem, there is a bit of a prisoner's dilemma on each country, right? How do you create a global marketplace with sort of norms and standards and pricing that someone's going to have to bear? Have you seen traction or progress around that front? I mean, I think there's a lot of press and and politicians sort of speaking to a solution, but I don't know... Sometimes, in my pessimistic moments, I'm like, "Well, we've got to do something about it," right?
Robert Höglund [00:29:29] Yeah. No, sure. Like, a global price on carbon is not going to happen anytime soon. I think few people think that. But there are a lot of things that individual actors or groups of actors can do. I mean, the EU is, of course, a good example. Now, the US has taken a lot of action as well, internally. There are sort of clubs of countries and then companies that can band together to do things together or just sort of adopt principles like, "We are voluntarily paying for these emissions that we have."
Robert Höglund [00:29:59] So yeah, there are a few systems that are actually doing this like cap and trade systems. The EU is the biggest, but outside of that, outside of setting up those new systems, I think voluntary action can go a really long way, especially in catalyzing new climate technologies where you don't need that much money in the beginning. Since not that many people are doing it, you can have a huge impact if you're actually going in and starting helping out and supporting them.
Michael Crabb [00:30:26] Yeah, that's key. As we're sort of building this marketplace, it is those voluntary first movers that demonstrate that it works, that it can be economic, and really price is irrelevant at some point. High prices cure high prices, and so that signal is needed. Yeah, really interesting. What are some of the big... Or maybe there aren't any, but what do people sort of say if they take the opposite position of you? What are the arguments that you are handling most frequently?
Robert Höglund [00:31:00] Well, I mean, it depends on sort of what arguments we're talking about. It could be the specific approach for alternative offsetting or someone critical against carbon removal. Those would be different. Which one are you thinking most about?
Michael Crabb [00:31:12] Let's do them both. That's what I kind of want to prod you to share with us.
Robert Höglund [00:31:16] Sure, let's start with carbon removal then. I think the most common objection is that carbon removal sort of takes the focus away from emission reductions so that the major possibility of removal solutions in the future are sort of making people slow down emission reductions because they think it's like an easy fix or something. My argument back to that is you're emission reduction pathways that are in the future, they're also off in these hard to abate sectors. They're also expensive, and if someone is looking to remove their carbon with permanent carbon removal, they're going to see that's going to cost over $100. Are we going to be able to afford that, or should we start reducing emissions?
Robert Höglund [00:32:00] To me, if you frame it in the right way and not like, "It's cheap offsets for $5 a piece," but actually showing what the real cost is, then those incentivize action instead. Because then you see, "Oh my God, we actually have to reduce emissions because otherwise we're up for a huge bill when we're going to reach our net zero target." So, I think if you explain how expensive it actually is going to be, it can be sort of a catalyst for action as well.
Robert Höglund [00:32:26] I think one key argument here also is that if you're looking at a cost curve, a marginal abatement cost curve, looking at different types of solutions and what they cost, you have these relatively cheap things like fossil-free energy... Like, solar and wind power is often cheaper than the fossil energy anyway. There are other bottlenecks, so it's not that difficult to go into that. That's kind of cheap wind. But then sort of further on, you have solutions that are not quite sort of ready yet. Solutions for cement, steel, and nitrous oxide from agriculture and then emissions from airplanes, for example.
Robert Höglund [00:33:11] For those type of emissions, carbon removal could be an option as well. If the cost of abating those emissions is really high and far away, then carbon removal becomes an option to that. So, if you see the whole sort of palette of things, then carbon removal is just one tool in the toolbox. If we don't have it, then we can't reduce temperatures back to what they were and it's going to be really, really difficult to reach net zero and also much more expensive, I think, than if you didn't have carbon removal in the toolbox.
Michael Crabb [00:33:45] Yeah, your point at the beginning is super interesting. Do we really care... I think the core of it is do you really care if a company is eliminating their carbon emissions, period, versus just removing them? And I think, basically, the answer is no, right? You don't really care which path they go, but it is clearly cheaper given the marginal cost today of reducing your emissions. But that may not always be the case. Yeah, that seems pretty obvious the way you describe it there.
Robert Höglund [00:34:20] Adding just a caveat there, the removals would have to be permanent. If you're continuing to emit fossil fuels, like in burning them and adding to atmospheric, then removing carbon to offset that, then there needs to be permanent carbon removal, like very long-term storage. And also, the carbon removal then shouldn't have any other disadvantages, like forcing people off their land or something like that. But in theory, if you have a solution that does not have those bad effects then your continued emissions also do not have any other bad effects such as environmental pollution aside from CO2. It's like, all those caveats need to be added onto it, though. Because often, positive emissions have lots of other bad things around, like communities getting polluted water. That also needs to be taken into account.
Robert Höglund [00:35:08] But yeah, in principle, I think carbon rule is a tool in the toolbox. Maybe you're going to decide that you're going to continue burning kerosene in an airplane, like oil, and instead do direct air capture and permanently store that instead of making synthetic fuels where you take CO2 from the air and then transform it into fuels, because that takes more electricity. So then, it might be okay to actually use oil, but like completely remove it all. That might be sort of the cheapest way. And then, it could also be the most sustainable way if you look at resource use. I'm not saying it necessarily is, but it's definitely possible.
Michael Crabb [00:35:43] Yeah, and I think the caveats are good ones, because the truth is all of these have some sort of tradeoff associated with them. Always and forever, right? And I personally think sometimes we let the perfect be the enemy of really great, right? Yeah, there's going to be some land use, there's going to be some mineral use. We just can't not have that.
Robert Höglund [00:36:10] Whatever you do, right? But then of course, there's some people advocating for like a completely different lifestyle. Cut resource use in half or something. I think I used to be more in that group before. Now, sort of looking at human psychology, politics, etc., I do think the kind of more abundance now, sort of just get shitloads of fossil-free energy... I do believe more in that approach now in terms of what would actually get traction, what would actually work, rather than sort of asking people to consume 50% less or something like that.
Michael Crabb [00:36:46] Yeah, interesting. I have some strong opinions here too. I'd love to maybe debate a little bit. But talk to us more about that evolution.
Robert Höglund [00:36:58] So, I used to write a lot of op-eds and stuff around this topic. I think I still stand for the sort of general conclusions that sustainability is a more important goal than growth. And like, you shouldn't let your growth targets sort of force you from not taking action on climate. Like, "Oh my God, we're not getting 5% GDP growth, then we can't do this new climate talks or something." But we did see those kinds of things happening, especially like 10 years or so ago. So, I think that was a key point.
Robert Höglund [00:37:32] But I think the focus on sort of reducing consumption, reducing resource use from individuals, it is important and it definitely helps. But in terms of what motivates people, in terms of what also helps the world in other aspects... Like, resource use can be really bad because it can reduce biodiversity and stuff, so it has to be done in a responsible way. But then also, energy uses is, for example, very tightly connected to human development in other countries that are poor already. So, it doesn't correlate forever, but up to a degree.
Robert Höglund [00:38:12] So, the world at large needs to use more energy. I believe that strongly, especially in places where they don't use that much. So, globally the energy use just has to go up a lot. The way that we can do that is not by the West sort of saving on energy that much. It can help a little bit. I just believe that kind of abundance agenda where we focus on building lots of fossil-free power as fast as possible. Like, in the same way France and Sweden did with the nuclear build-out in the '70s, for example, it is possible. The amount of electricity that they were able to put on the grid in a very short period of time was astonishing, and it can be done again, for sure. I just think that kind of vision is also a lot more appealing to people.
Michael Crabb [00:39:02] I very much agree with that outlook for both of the two core reasons you just discussed. Like, it's just not realistic to have people cut back in such degrees. You know, you see some of these like, "Oh, net zero is easily accomplished." You dig into the paper and they're assuming people cut energy use by 50%, right? And you're like, "In what world?" I think to me, that's why carbon removal makes so much sense in that pricing those externalities and solving the core problem is obviously critical.
Michael Crabb [00:39:39] Well, yeah, very interesting. Okay, so you've got 200 and some applications here for your Transformation Fund. What do the next five years look like for you and Marginal Carbon?
Robert Höglund [00:39:55] So, I'm proceeding working with Milkywire now. I think it's great, the fund that we were able to grow. The concept where you take this impact-first approach and also use an internal carbon fee, I think is growing and sort of helping that grow with other companies. The other things that I do besides Milkywire is, for example, working with a think tank called Carbon Gap, which works on carbon removal in Europe. It's a little bit similar to Carbon180 in the US. We wrote a paper last year on sort of who can pay for climate action and carbon removal. I foresee continuing doing things like that with them.
Robert Höglund [00:40:30] I write a lot on my own Substack as well, trying to solve things like... Not solve, but giving input and sort of working out a bit from my perspective on things like permanence and who pays for... How can the market for carbon removal get kickstarted? What are different levels that will help carbon removal grow? So, I look forward to continue working on problems like that and sort of helping the sector in ways that are sustainable.
Robert Höglund [00:40:59] And then, inputting on different various policy things. Like, I'm in this EU expert on carbon removal as an observer member, working out certification ways that the EU can work on certifying carbon removal. Working out also with people like GOAL Standard and inputting to the science-based target on sort of what are the best corporate approaches when it comes to carbon removal and corporate climate action. Things like that I enjoy working with. To come up with new ideas, new best practices, write whitepapers, get new case studies done with companies. Stuff like that.
Michael Crabb [00:41:35] Very cool. You've mentioned this sort of permanence question a couple of times. Maybe give us a little more information on what that looks like. Where are we storing this? What do you consider more permanent versus not permanent?
Robert Höglund [00:41:52] I have a graph in one of my posts that gives a classification of this. The most permanent way of storing CO2 is when it's turned into a rock, when it's pumped underground in a way where it's very stable and eventually also turns into a solid. And if you're pumping sort of bio oil into the subsurface, you're mineralizing CO2 as rocks. Like, there are ways that it's very, very difficult to get that carbon back.
Robert Höglund [00:42:23] And there are sort of intermediary ways like biochar that slowly breaks down and gives some CO2 back, but it takes hundreds of years. And then, there are ways where you store carbon in the short carbon cycle. So, fossil emissions comes from the long cycle. You're digging up oil, you're digging up coal. It wasn't in the atmosphere before. You're just adding that on. But if you're capturing that back into trees, then you're taking from the long cycle and putting it back in the short cycle. It can still be effective in a way, but it is not equal from the different cycles.
Robert Höglund [00:42:56] So, there is a risk that those forests are reversed, that they're sort of dying from forest fires or cut down or that someone decides that they should be farmland in future. So, it's not functionally the same thing. It wouldn't be permissible to say, "Yeah, we're going to continue to burn oil because we're planting these trees." It might still be a good idea to plant trees, but it wouldn't be like this offset relationship.
Robert Höglund [00:43:18] So, you have a concept that's called like for like removals that the UNFCCC, the UN's campaign called Race to Zero also uses, and then many others. If you have these long-lived emissions from fossil sources, then you should store the carbon in the same way. But if you have emissions from... Let's say you're cutting down a forest to build a new city or something. Those emissions are from a short carbon cycle, so they could be offset with trees somewhere else, for example. Everything has to be equal, and the same with soil or methane emissions. So, that principle, I think, is a really good sort of benchmark for how to think about when you're compensating.
Michael Crabb [00:44:08] Yeah, critical nuance there, right? You could imagine how there are different tiers of pricing or something. As it shows up on a balance sheet and you're paying that as a liability and you're paying that off in different ways, it can be classified differently. Huh, really interesting. Well, okay, I think we covered a lot of stuff. Anything that we didn't talk about that we should?
Robert Höglund [00:44:35] We can always go really deep in all of these topics, right? There are so many nuances to all of the things that we talked about. Each of them can be like several hours of discussion. So, I guess we covered a lot of the most relevant topics of the things that I work on. I'm also collaborating on something called cdr.fyi, which is a website that tracks all the known purchases of carbon removal, so you can see how small the sector is. It's doable or permanent storage. It doesn't track forestation, for example, because that's an old sector and it would be extremely difficult to actually track it. So, people can check that out if you want to see who is buying carbon removal from whom and what type of solutions.
Michael Crabb [00:45:18] Yeah, really interesting. Can you give us a sense? Like, how big is that market from a tons per year perspective?
Robert Höglund [00:45:27] Pre-purchases and offtake agreements was around 700,000 tons last year. So I mean, we're emitting like 40 billion tons. So, I mean, an extremely small amount. And deliveries were even smaller, like carbon that actually was removed. That was like 35,000 tons. This is known carbon removal. Like, that was sold as carbon removal. For example, there are more biochar products that don't sell carbon credits, but they're removing carbon in a sense. It doesn't cover all the carbon removal activities that happen in the whole world, but it covers sort of the market, or at least the known market. And we think that we're capturing most of it. But if you look, I think one number that really sticks with me is how many companies bought more than 1,000 tons, last year, of durable carbon removal. Do you want to guess?
Michael Crabb [00:46:19] More than a thousand tons?
Robert Höglund [00:46:22] Most companies have like tens of thousands tons of emissions, right? So, it's not a lot.
Michael Crabb [00:46:27] I would guess... I would guess 35.
Robert Höglund [00:46:30] Yeah, it's a good guess. Yeah, that's a really good guess. There's not a lot of companies. It's 16 last year.
Michael Crabb [00:46:35] Wow, okay.
Robert Höglund [00:46:38] Microsoft, Shopify, Milkywire, and Klarna that we work with. There's a few sort of enthusiasts, first movers. But most companies haven't sort of gotten into it yet. But there is support. It's really important because if you have a net zero target, then you need carbon removal. And if you need carbon removal in the future, you have to get working on it now and spend a part of your climate budget, because otherwise these solutions are not going to be available to scale.
Robert Höglund [00:47:11] Even if you poured absurd amounts of money into carbon removal in 2050, it would still take decades to create that industry because you need to have the permits to develop the technologies, bring them down the cost curve, build out all these facilities, develop the whole infrastructure for the storage. Like, it takes decades to build an industry, and we're going to need billions... Like, in any case, we need some billions of carbon removal. So, if you don't get started now, it's just not available at that kind of scale later on. And we need more companies to help out.
Michael Crabb [00:47:46] Amazing. Well, I'm glad you're in the space pushing it forward. I imagine you as some sort of fund allocator across these technologies here in the next decade. Maybe I'm putting words in your mouth.
Robert Höglund [00:47:59] Well, I mean, I'm certainly happy to have the ability to work on it and also have the ability to help support companies through the fund thanks to the corporate donors that we have. So, that's really, really cool.
Michael Crabb [00:48:12] Yeah, amazing. Well, thanks so much for coming on.
Robert Höglund [00:48:15] Well, thank you.