BECCS Summit 2024: Messages of the day 

Climate leaders, forward-thinking corporates, carbon removal suppliers and market influencers joined forces this June 2024 at Hampton Court Palace for the inaugural BECCS Summit co-hosted by Drax and Inherit Carbon Solutions and sponsored by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

The slogan of the day: “Take climate action now”

And, amongst impassioned discussion, the need for action was top of mind. High spirits were met with an even higher calling to keep moving this market forwards: to benefit the planet, to support all climate solutions, and to give corporates an accessible route to creating positive impact. 

A packed room of optimistic changemakers heard from an agenda of speakers spanning the CDR market, run under Chatham House rule.  

Read on for the key messages and experiences shared on the day – from buyers and market experts – and scroll to the bottom for a video capturing the day. 

The planet needed removals yesterday 

“We have failed, and we’re out of time. And we know that,” was a mic drop moment that kicked off one speaker’s summary of our efforts to curtail the climate crisis.  

“We’ve already overshot,” they continued, referring to global efforts to limit warming. “We must do carbon removals, or the math doesn’t work out.”  

Their comments were supported by a reminder of IPCC modelling: all scenarios that limit warming to safe levels require large carbon removal (CDR) tonnage. A staggering number of removals – up to 1.6Gt – will be needed by 2030 if we want to keep to 1.5 degrees.  

It provided a grounding start to the day for many attendees, who acknowledged that the bigger picture can, at times, feel distant.   

“There are some days when I have zero minutes to think about the impacts of climate change,” one speaker candidly shared.  

“And it’s sometimes hard not to lose sight of the overall objective. That’s why we’re so grateful for everyone to be here today, reminding us why the work we all do is so important.”  

The making of a market 

“Looking at the forecasts, and the numbers, carbon is theoretically the world’s largest market.” 

An eye-opening comment from one speaker, who broke down the sheer potential value of the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM) and nodded to the wide representation of groups and roles in the room. With good natured mirth, “We know we’ve got a market when the lawyers are here!”  

The conversation moved to how the VCM could reach a new level of maturity, and the confidence that would bring.  

“What would happen if we combined the Voluntary Carbon Market with best practice from financial markets..?” posed one speaker.  

Their predictions on the potential outcomes were wide and beneficial to buyers: “Better rates, better access, client and buyer investment protection, more transparency, standardised contracts and terms, a de-risked position for buyers, fungibility, liquidity…” 

Integrity above all else 

But growth must have guardrails, and even outside of a dedicated panel on market standards, integrity was a much-repeated theme of the day.   

“Just 3% of credits in the market are valid, durable removal. But quality is the best strategy,” said one climate expert.  

Another speaker remarked on how well regulated BECCS is: “The compliance world is already there and in place.” And these frameworks for doing things are reassuring BECCS buyers: “Integrity is the bedrock of why this type of carbon removal is very viable.”   

“Focussing on quality reduces risk,” added another. In summary, climate action and quality assurance go hand in hand. 

Carbon negative, energy positive 

There was unanimous agreement that the planet needs diverse, varied climate solutions to bring balance. But, in a world where we have too much CO2 in our atmosphere, and are predicting too few electrons on the grid, BECCS shone throughout the day as a contender for a multi-benefit climate solution.  

“In the UK, we moved from 11% renewable power, to regularly reaching 50%. But this is still too slow – we should have got there ages ago. We need the negative emissions – still delivering steady, renewable power. BECCS is vital in doing this while removing carbon.” 

“When biomass and bioenergy is done well, there’s nothing that can beat it for getting to a carbon negative position,” one speaker said, addressing the topic of sustainably, well-managed forests and fuel sources. “There’s places for solar, battery storage; medium- and longer-term storage duration – but forests and crops are also forms of longer term energy storage.” 

And from another speaker, looking to the sheer scale of the climate crisis: “BECCS is critical climate technology for meeting our climate goals… BECCS specifically can provide outsized value in addressing key climate challenges.”   

How are some buyers driving change in their business? 

For some corporates, their creeping targets have been motivation enough to be building their CDR portfolios.  

“Voluntary sustainability commitments are no more voluntary than anything your corporate does,” commented one speaker. 

“Not meeting targets means you lose credibility, and that can be a perspective. Don’t change your target more than once. You can do it once, but you can’t do it twice.” 

Another speaker noted that the biggest push for them has come from within: an organisation full of passionate team members wanting to drive change from the bottom up. 

“Most of our [sustainability strategy change] came about through Colleague Resource Groups – strong internal advocates helping to drive senior management decisions.”  

The buyer experience: we’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to 

For buyers in the audience, investing in this new market may feel like the start of a marathon, but the course is unknown.  

Reassurance came from the handful of leaders who’ve taken the leap; organisations that have stepped across the start line and are dedicated to helping set the pace for others.  

“It’s quite a learning curve to buy good quality in the market and get it right. It takes a bit of time, practice, piloting,” commented one speaker, who’d observed some of these early leaders in action. 

From another, “We’ve done a lot of hard complicated work, with help, and hopefully it’ll get easier for everyone else following.” 

On their practice of transparency and sharing, they continued: “Everything we can share, we share. We look for integrity and practicality; durability and consistency. And BECCS is where we’re seeing the biggest volumes by far.” 

“Was it difficult?” posed one buyer, reflecting on their entry into the carbon market. “Not any more difficult than any other agreement we’ve entered. You don’t need scientists or engineers on staff.” 

The cost of doing nothing 

Some speakers shared their analytical view on the cost – and benefit – of organisations buying carbon removals now.  

“The analysis shows that we’ll have scarcity. If you have a commitment and you want to fulfil it, you need to get active. Support the suppliers so they can take their investment decisions” 

They rebutted the idea that organisations that wait will save money in the near future, in the wake of cheaper price predictions being shared in some media sources. 

“Most numbers we see for future CDRs on the market are just cost to produce. This isn’t the same as price. It’s likely that we’ll see a higher price in future – that’s the way suppliers can take investment decisions. When there’s enough supply, prices may come down.” 

Others reminded the room of the altruistic view, and our original cause of preventing further climate crisis repercussions. 

Simply and powerfully put, “Why should buyers buy now? We all need it.” 

Give support to those ready to take action  

‘Take climate action now’ summarised the spirt of the day: talk needs to turn into action. 

“We’re really behind, globally but also in the UK,” said one speaker. “BECCS has a huge role to play, and we need to get going really soon or we won’t be able to ramp the technology up quickly enough. So many organisations are ready to go, if we get the right support mechanism” 

“We’re purchasing removals now to compensate for unavoidable emissions but in a credible, meaningful way; to learn about CDRs; to contribute to the growth and maturation of the CDR industry; to lead by example.” said one speaker. 

Sage advice came from another, who encouraged testing the waters: “Perfect is the enemy of good. Don’t try to be perfect on day one or we’ll never get anywhere.” 

And finally – was buying carbon removals worth it..? One buyer was asked. Their answer was responsibly confident.  

“Absolutely. We’re getting into something that’s inspiring people, teaching us a lot, and doing something really credible to improve our carbon footprint.”  

Check out our video that captured the BECCS Summit below – and if you’ve read this far, and you’re wanting to take climate action now, get in touch today to find out how you can cross the finish line.  

Get in touch with our experts to discuss how carbon removals can support your organization’s decarbonization journey.