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My Climate Journey
Decarbonizing the material economy with Rebecca Dell (ClimateWorks Foundation)

Decarbonizing the material economy with Rebecca Dell (ClimateWorks Foundation)

My Climate Journey podcast episode 224

Today's guest is Rebecca Dell, Senior Program Director, Industry at ClimateWorks Foundation.

ClimateWorks is on a mission to end the climate crisis by amplifying the power of philanthropy. Since 2008, ClimateWorks has granted over $1.3 billion to more than 600 grantees in over 50 countries. Now, Rebecca leads the industry program, which is dedicated to reducing and eliminating the one-third of greenhouse gas emissions that come from the material economy. Previously, she worked at the U.S. Department of Energy in the Obama Administration, where she coordinated implementation of President Obama's Climate Action Plan and was a lead analyst and author of the U.S. Quadrennial Energy Review. Before her federal service, Rebecca was a scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, studying the interaction between the ocean and land-based ice sheets like those in Greenland and Antarctica.

Industries are a huge source of emissions and many people say that they are notoriously "hard to decarbonize," but this conversation with Rebecca sheds light on additional context for why that may be the case (or not). What aspects make them hard to decarbonize? How can we accelerate decarbonization and philosophically, what should we do in the meantime? This is a great discussion and we hope you enjoy it!

In today’s episode, we cover: 

  • [3:57] An overview of ClimateWorks Foundation 

  • [6:02] Rebecca's unusual entry into climate from physics 

  • [11:37] Gap in resources and funding for solutions in the industrial sector

  • [13:53] Why the industrial sector is considered "hard to decarbonize" 

  • [16:21] Activities that are mainly responsible for GHG emissions, including steel, cement and chemicals 

  • [21:56] Costs associated with green production and who covers it  

  • [28:56] Examples of how Rebecca creates demand for low GHG commodities 

  • [32:34] ClimateWorks' model for looking at potential grantees 

  • [37:15] Biggest levers for decarbonizing industrials faster

  • [39:28] Voestalpine steel company example of the infrastructure planning, local politics, and social issues tied to decarbonizing certain industrials 

  • [44:44] Types of capital needed 

  • [48:36] Why a carbon tax is unappealing 

  • [52:52] Carbon capture and the cement industry 

  • [58:41] How people can make an impact in climate working in the industry sector

Visit our website for the full transcript of this episode.

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Episode recorded on August 5, 2022.

MCJ Newsletter
My Climate Journey
A growing body of knowledge about climate change and potential solutions. This series traverses disciplines, industries, and opinions with hundreds of deep-dive conversations with science, technology, and climate leaders.