A peek into the inaugural Carbon Removers Summit

We brought big questions and even bigger ideas.

7 min readNov 30, 2022
Image: RGI Events

At Carbon180, we spend our days bringing together the people, resources, and ideas needed for a carbon-removing world — but rarely do we get to see our fellow carbon removers in person, far less in one room. That all changed when we hosted our first-ever Carbon Removers Summit in DC earlier this month.

Some of the brightest minds in CDR policy and innovation gathered to step outside their day-to-day, discover what they didn’t know, and help set the agenda for gigaton-scale removal. We heard from a curated line-up of experts — including opening remarks from Rep. Scott Peters — and put Carbon180’s own experts in the hot-seat for a live roundtable. Here’s how it went down. See the full list of speakers here.

Opening remarks

Erin Burns and Rep. Peters set the tone with a look at how far the industry has come in a few short years — and where it could be headed. As Rep. Peters put it, “2022 was carbon removal’s year.”

To scale CDR exponentially by 2050, he said, his top three priorities in Congress are to help the government implement CDR bills already passed, advance additional policy wins, and build political support for government procurement of carbon removal. He gave special nods to scaling co-benefits — like thousands of good-paying jobs — and bipartisan action. And with that, attendees splintered off for our first round of panels.

Image: RGI Events

Defining success for DAC hubs

At the DAC panel moderated by Andrew Freedman, DOE’s Dr. Jennifer Wilcox likened the regional DAC hubs to “seeds for what will be required to bring carbon removal to gigaton scale.” Through social and technical de-risking, she said, hubs can serve as a model for the private sector as it races to scale up removals. Jetta Wong said DAC can also learn from other sectors and ensure that deployment is just for communities. The panelists all spoke to their own vision for DAC hubs, like Jason Walsh’s support for high-paying, union jobs across the supply chain, and Rory Jacobson’s desire for robust community education.

The climate Farm Bill: Soil science and farmer-centered research

With moderator Maria Gallucci, speakers dissected challenges to the widespread adoption of soil carbon practices, including cultural resistance in farming communities (Sara Nicholas) and the need for stronger messaging that truly aligns with producers’ interests (Chris Tolles). The panel also dug into the role of monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV), with Cristel Zoebisch explaining, “We need to do a lot of work to advance measurement tools to lessen that burden on farmers.” When it comes to federal investments, the panel cited the upcoming Farm Bill as a tremendous opportunity to scale up soil carbon practices, and Dr. Julian Reyes described USDA’s intention to build more opportunities for interagency coordination efforts to this end.

The climate Farm Bill: Establishing US leadership in forestry

Moderated by Jad Daley, another panel cited the 2023 Farm Bill as a critical mechanism for advancing forestry as a carbon removal solution, with Alix Murdoch stressing the need to get funding numbers right from the outset. Dr. Anne Marsh underscored agroforestry as a key opportunity for forest-based carbon removal that policymakers can support in both Farm Bill and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) implementation. Ugbaad Kosar highlighted the dynamic benefits of forestry projects: improved air quality and public health, just job creation, and economic wellbeing. According to Diana Dombrowski, reforestation efforts can support a just transition for communities like hers in Appalachia, where there exists swaths of abandoned mine lands.

Lessons in resource management for carbon removal

Now that carbon removal solutions are coming to fruition on the ground, Dr. Simone Stewart said, we have to grapple with questions like: How do we maintain a localized workforce, provide union jobs, and keep expertise and benefits from CDR within a community, rather than extracting from them? Frances Wang and Dr. Colin McCormick speculated on the energy use of future DAC plants that remove on the gigaton scale with moderator Anu Khan.

How government can buy carbon removal’s future

House of Representatives staffer Tom Erb gave opening remarks on how to advance a CDR procurement bill in the future. A key piece of the puzzle is education on both sides of the aisle that covers community, economic, and climate benefits. As Giana Amador noted to moderator Nicole Buell, the federal government is no stranger to incentivizing new technologies through procurement — and it’s hard to imagine a path to 10-gigaton removal without strong federal support. Looking at the Carbon Dioxide Removal Leadership Act and the CREST Act, Savita Bowman said we’re in a promising window to usher in new, field-shaping policy, so long as we are technically specific, address challenges with storage and transportation, set standards with MRV, and align with communities early on. Another upside of carbon removal policy, according to Dr. Jane Flegal? Its bipartisan appeal.

Past emissions, present harm: How carbon removal can be a tool for justice

As Alayna Chuney pointed out, the nascency of carbon removal grants us the opportunity to center environmental and climate justice in the field from the start; that means recognizing and redressing past harms done to Black and brown communities before siting begins. In conversation with Dharna Noor, panelists explored the different groups that developers should engage in conversations about potential projects, including youth and frontline communities, said Jasmine Davenport. Nikki Batchelor said that community engagement can’t be distilled into a universal checklist, as each deployment will be different, nor should project developers simply be listening for the answers they want to hear, according to Jennifer Hadayia.

Image: RGI Events

Monitor, report, verify: Taking the guesswork out of carbon removal

Robust MRV is key to scaling and building accountability across the field, but there’s still discord around what MRV really means and best practices for implementing. In conversation with moderator Dr. Peter Minor, Joanna Klitzke described MRV as a process to get trustworthy estimates of carbon removal outcomes and build confidence for buyers, whereas Mary Yap saw MRV as “synonymous with scale.” Dr. Shuchi Talati framed carbon removal as a public good and MRV as a “governance tool to achieve just outcomes.” Panelists wrestled with difficult questions about the balancing act between cost and certainty and who bears responsibility. Kristin Ellis pointed out that right now, the different costs of verification are split piecemeal between investors and buyers — but that could change as the CDR landscape shifts and the government steps into a larger procurement role.

The Deep End Live

And that took us to our last panel of the day, The Deep End Live. Our policy newsletter — usually chock full of polished insights — got remixed for a live audience. Carbon removers at the summit posed questions to a panel of C180 experts to be answered on the spot. They inquired about the role of compliance markets, state and municipal opportunities for carbon removal, MRV’s potential as a tool for environmental justice, and more. No notes, no preparation, no worries.

Image: RGI Events


To close out a vibrant day of discussion, LaTricea Adams of Black Millennials for Flint delivered a stirring keynote address urging us to get mad about the harm done to frontline communities — and engage them in creating a more just, livable future together. She imparted advice on how to truly center environmental justice in carbon removal, such as shifting our definition of who an “expert” is to include frontline communities. LaTricea recounted her own introduction to carbon removal and concluded with, “Let’s stay mad and let’s keep getting into good trouble.”

Day Two

The next day, a group of startups and C180 teammates went to Capitol Hill. Together, this group heard an address from Rep. Tom Malinowski and held more than 30 meetings with different lawmakers where innovators shared their stories and discussed the needs of the carbon removal field.

The 2022 Carbon Removers Summit was only the start, and we’re excited to continue working alongside policymakers, innovators, and others across the field to translate our shared passion into impact. Stay in the loop about future events by following us on Twitter and signing up for our newsletters.

Image: RGI Events

Edited by Tracy Yu

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