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Direct Air Capture A high-tech fix for climate change

Listen: Direct Air Capture A high-tech fix for climate change

About this Episode

Can a global array of CO2-sucking machines save us from the worst ravages of climate change? This episode is the first in an ESG Insider miniseries about new carbon-removal technology. This week we examine a method called Direct Air Capture, or DAC Right now, DAC is expensive and only at the nascent stages of development. But there’s growing support from entrepreneurs and some large companies to deploy the approach on an industrial scale.

In this episode, we interview Steve Oldham, CEO of a Canadian company called Carbon Engineering, which is building a giant carbon-sucking plant in America’s oil-rich Permian Basin. Oldham explains how the technology works; why his company almost shut its doors; and why it now has the backing of Bill Gates and a host of fossil fuel companies, including Occidental, BHP and Chevron.

We also talk to Daniel Egger, Chief Commercial Officer of Swiss firm Climeworks. The clean tech company recently switched on the world’s largest DAC plant in Iceland. A smaller DAC plant run by Climeworks in Switzerland already sells the CO2 it extracts to greenhouses and to Coca-Cola, which uses the gas to put the fizz in its namesake drink.

Our third guest is Stuart Haszeldine of the University of Edinburgh, which describes him as the world’s first official professor of carbon capture and storage. Haszeldine explains how DAC technology can help remove the large volumes of CO2 that humans have pumped into the air since the Industrial Revolution. He also points out that, despite recent progress on DAC technology, most politicians and policymakers have yet to back the idea because it "seems to promise magic out of thin air."

Listen and subscribe to this podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and SoundCloud.