The growing interest in carbon management—carbon capture, removal, use, transport, and storage—among industry, labor, communities, and the federal government means we have new opportunities to take action on economywide decarbonization—and there’s no time to wait. The Great Plains Institute’s carbon management team launched the Carbon Action Alliance (Action Alliance) in late 2022 to meet this moment of opportunity and urgency.
The Action Alliance translates federal policy into local opportunity and supports our growing network in learning about the essential role carbon management technologies play in addressing climate change and creating jobs and advocating for their success.
- Carbon management is critical to meeting climate goals and creating jobs
- There is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to scale technologies and build projects
- People are at the heart of solving the climate challenge, and an equitable energy transition is critical to success
- GPI’s Carbon Action Alliance launched to connect stakeholders and invite all people to learn and advocate for carbon management solutions
Advocating for carbon management will help us address climate change
Addressing the climate change requires bold action at the individual, industrial, and governmental levels. In 2020 alone, the United States industry and power sectors released almost 3,000 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, almost 50 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions. These emissions contribute to climate change impacts—rising temperatures, changes in precipitation, increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, and rising sea levels.
If the US is to meet its principal climate goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by midcentury, we need to work together to decarbonize all sectors of our economy.
We’re making strides in tackling emissions in transportation (investments in electric vehicles and public transportation) and homes and businesses (efficiency and electrification). We need to make these same strides in decarbonizing our industrial and power sectors, where carbon management will play an important and complementary role to other emissions reduction strategies.
By taking active steps to reduce these emissions, we can help prevent further environmental destruction and mitigate the social and economic inequalities associated with climate change. Every action and every minute counts as we strive to reduce our emissions, and we need to use every technology available to us to quickly prevent carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere and remove legacy emissions from the air.
As the Carbon Action Alliance, we aim to bring new voices into the decarbonization conversation and provide the tools and resources people need to learn and advocate for solutions.
Why the Carbon Action Alliance?
Listen to David Turk, Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Energy, talk about why initiatives like the Carbon Action Alliance are important to helping reduce carbon emissions and solve the climate crisis. Deputy Secretary Turk spoke at the Action Alliance launch event.
Translating federal policy into local opportunity
In the past two years, the federal government passed legislation that included over 22 billion dollars in funding for carbon management through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.
We have limited time to access this funding, and using it effectively will require an incredible amount of understanding, collaboration, and action. The Carbon Action Alliance is here to support that work by translating federal policies into opportunities on the ground. Our work toward this goal revolves around four pillars:
- Educate: Meet people where they’re at with accessible and relatable educational resources
- Act: Integrate and expand federal and state policy action and implementation
- Connect: Grow our network and connect key stakeholders and communities
- Involve: Foster an equitable and informed approach to carbon management and industrial decarbonization project deployment
Provide educational resources
Carbon management is a new, complex, and confusing topic to many people. Most of the public has little knowledge of carbon management, and many local governments and communities need trustworthy, factual information as they make decisions about their energy futures.
New technologies can be difficult to understand. However, it’s promising to look at trends in wind and solar and see that people are much more familiar with these energy technologies than they were a few decades ago.
While carbon management technologies have been in operation for decades, recent historic investments mean many people are hearing of these technologies for the first time. The Carbon Action Alliance is working on getting carbon management to that same level of familiarity by meeting people where they are and providing easy-to-understand and relatable resources. Through video series, storytelling, toolkits, events, and updates, we help socialize carbon management technologies and provide opportunities for stakeholders at all levels to connect, ask questions, and learn more.
Act on federal and state policy
We have limited time to allocate most of the funds from the recent once-in-a-generation investment in carbon management—the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act’s funds expire in five and ten years, respectively. This immense pool of funding is ready to go. It can be allocated toward carbon management research, projects, and technology development.
While the incentives are in place, state and local policy will largely determine whether federal investments in the scale-up and deployment of these technologies are successful. That’s why we need public support and local understanding of carbon management technologies to unlock this investment potential.
Through a grassroots network like the Carbon Action Alliance, we can provide the education and advocacy tools needed to garner support for carbon management. We can also encourage decision-makers to take meaningful steps to help reduce carbon emissions. The Action Alliance will provide toolkits to local policy makers, pen draft letters of support, and build coalitions with community organizations to amplify impact and take advantage of this moment.
There is no shortage of new carbon management technologies and regulatory considerations that local officials and community members will encounter soon, such as direct air capture hubs, Class VI well applications, and hydrogen plants.
While the Carbon Action Alliance doesn’t support or oppose specific projects, we want to ensure all stakeholders have the tools and policy frameworks in place to make the decisions that are most beneficial to them, their economies, and the environment.
The Action Alliance works closely with the Great Plains Institute’s other carbon management and industrial decarbonization initiatives, and we’re looking to grow our network. There are solutions to address climate change in every sector of our economy, and we’re eager to bring new partners into the conversation. This involves building awareness of the nation’s opportunity to deploy decarbonization solutions, as well as lifting up the stories of everyday people who interact with or could benefit from carbon management, such as workers and community members.
Collaboration is key to navigating any major technological or societal change, and there is a need to get groups of people on the same page about carbon management, including policy makers, industry leaders, labor unions, environmental advocates, community leaders, and members of the general public. The Carbon Action Alliance network will offer people and organizations opportunities to make new connections, access the latest research and policy updates, and share best practices.
Involve local communities
People are at the heart of addressing and solving climate change. This challenge requires the active participation and engagement of people in order to be effective, fair, and successful. We know that meaningful community engagement is integral to building successful energy and infrastructure projects, and carbon management and industrial decarbonization projects are no different.
There is no one-size-fits-all engagement strategy, and robust community partnerships are needed to ensure benefits from project development flow to workers and communities.
The Action Alliance will help facilitate these partnerships by doing the following:
- Going out into communities and meeting people where they are in terms of their background and knowledge
- Providing stakeholders with the resources and educational tools they need to consider all perspectives when discussing the buildout of projects
This work includes recognizing the environmental injustices that have and continue to threaten the health and livelihoods of vulnerable populations and uplifting and respecting the decision-making power of community voices. There is a need to define equitable carbon management and industrial decarbonization technology deployment inclusive of community response and environmental justice impact.
These conversations are where helpful tools like the Community Decision Support Tool we’re developing can play a vital role in connecting with communities. Informed by a series of community engagement workshops, this tool will incorporate community values into siting criteria and project deployment best practices.
The Action Alliance aims to learn more about communities’ priorities and perspectives in specific states and has started this work by conducting polling and focus groups in Louisiana. As part of our efforts to increasingly bring environmental justice to the forefront of our work, the Action Alliance will launch an environmental justice fellowship in 2023.
Everyone is invited to join the Carbon Action Alliance network, whether you’re an individual interested in learning more or an organization looking to partner. Join us to learn about carbon management and gain the tools needed to effectively advocate for solutions in your community.