Carbon Unbound East Coast Confirms Industry’s Growth But Highlights Challenges

Carbon Unbound East Coast Confirms Industry's Growth But Highlights Challenges - Carbon Herald
Brian Marrs from Microsoft announcing the launch of the Symbiosis Coalition. Image: Carbon Unbound

This year’s edition of Carbon Unbound, the leading carbon removal business summit and one of the world’s top climate events, was even bigger and better than previous editions. One of the telltale signs was the suffix “East Coast” to the event’s official name, signifying how the demand for connecting within the industry is growing across the U.S. and globally.

Carbon Unbound 2024 saw a dramatic 115% increase on last year’s event and tickets were sold out two months in advance. Of the 540 total delegates, some 75% were C-Suite or director-level attendees. 

James Kench, Head of Insurance at Kita praised the event by saying: “It was a really good conference, very well organized, with good content and high-profile delegates and speakers. We speak to these folks all the time but it’s good to hear things in the flesh and to hear from other people in the ecosystem what they think about different issues, including risk. Carbon removal is a very collaborative space and I think that is also part of the fun of CDR at the moment.”

Day 1 was mainly focused on aviation and nature-based solutions, with plenty of fireside conversations during the well-attended panels.

Air Canada enjoyed an avalanche of questions, whereas Chestnut Carbon and Next150 compelled the audience with a highly engaging conversation.

Ocean CDR also got plenty of attention on the first day of the event, as Running Tide’s Marty Odlin gave attendees a rude awakening with hard facts about wrong measurements and wrong goals based on those measurements, which are driving us off course to stopping climate change. 

Image: Carbon Unbound

Among the day’s highlights was Microsoft’s announcement of yet another million tons of carbon removals purchased from Orsted, as was the announcement of Symbiosis – a coalition formed by tech giants, such as Meta and Microsoft, committed to supporting nature-based CDR solutions. 

Day 2 of Carbon Unbound East Coast 2024 was predominantly focused on buyers and addressing their concerns and expectations. 

One of the key takeaways for Matthew Borghi from BECCS developer Drax also confirmed the sources of demand in the market but also the challenges suppliers face: “The market is growing, sales this year are close to being at the level of 2023, so that’s very promising. Microsoft is leading the way but there is a risk that that isn’t converted to wider purchases from smaller customers. I think there is still a lack of demand incentives and I think that’s partially because corporates don’t really know how to buy CDRs and how to use them, because the guidance is unclear.”

Ending the day was a very symbolic first-ever pop-up carbon removal buyers club, which was set up by Airminers. 

A half dozen carbon credits were sold at the buyers club, which many hope will be the beginning of a new tradition for all future Carbon Unbound events. 

As a summary of the efforts to scale CDR, Justin Freiberg, Managing Director at the Yale Carbon Containment Lab, said: ‘This is an absolute sprint but also a marathon.’

Carbon Direct‘s packed Breakfast Briefing at Carbon Unbound: “The voluntary carbon market is evolving”. Photo: Unbound Summits

Commenting on the challenges the industry faces James Kench added: “The industry needs a plan. Can we as a community get a bit more of a fixed roadmap in place to actually show what removals are available and will be coming to market year by year? And who’s going to buy them.

It’s also good to get the folks that might eventually look at carbon from a regulatory lens in the finance space plugged into these types of events because we’re going to need their help. I’d [also] like to see more of the “boring finance” people from the SEC and commodities and futures market there, because they will provide the [financial] plumbing that will help this scale soon.”

In September, Carbon Unbound will open its doors in London, UK, where one of the focuses of the summit will be European carbon dioxide removal (CDR) policy, along with scaling CDR solutions across the region. 

Buyers will have the opportunity to learn about how they can convince their leadership team to purchase carbon removals, while the supply side of the equation will have the chance to better understand the constantly changing investor landscape for CDR projects and how they can secure funding.

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