Henry, you jumped into the OpenAir discord about a year ago for the first time? What led you to our carbon removal community?
For most of my life, climate change was THE imminent issue that I could not do anything to solve. Last year, I decided I did not want to leave my future in the hands of other people and became determined to find a way to make my own impact. After discovering Carbon Dioxide Removal, I started reaching out to companies to gain advice, eventually leading me to Open Air.
You have become active in our Massachusetts advocacy group’s citizen lobbying efforts in support of the Carbon Dioxide Removal Leadership Act. What is this bill aim to do, and what kinds of activities are you leading to build support for it?
The way I like to think about the Massachusetts Carbon Dioxide Removal Leadership Act is that the state government sets aside money annually to spend on carbon credits from Carbon Dioxide Removal companies, thus generating a market in a budding industry. Each year, the price the government buys carbon credits decreases which forces innovation from companies and lets the state committee make smart investments.
My goal is to create more youth involvement, whether it be in my local high school or on a state scale. I have organized presentations led by youth with state officials, set up call stands around my campus, and attended youth lobby meetings in the Massachusetts State House.
At 15, you might be the youngest OpenAir advocate in our community. In your experience, how does the idea of carbon removal resonate with other young people you engage with as an advocate? Is it on their radar?
One of the many wonderful things about the CDR community is that no one has refused to listen to me just because of my age. Unfortunately, even youth already interested in Climate Action are largely uninformed about CDR. However, out of the hundreds of students I have talked with, the vast majority understand the importance of improving CDR. I believe that all youth want to help fight for their future, and just need a way to do that. I hope CDR can be the answer for many other teens.
I know you also have some big interest the science and engineering end of CDR, in addition to advocacy. What forms of CDR do you find most interesting and promising from a tech perspective?
Obviously, we will need a variety of technologies to combat this crisis. However, I am particularly hopeful about Direct Air Capture as a “boom or bust” option, given DAC’s relative modernity. I believe that there are several huge breakthroughs coming that will allow for DAC to be efficiently scaled in a swift manner, and that the price has the potential to mimic the growth of solar energy.
What are you most excited about achieving as an OpenAir member over the next year?
I am extremely excited to continue working with Open Air and to expand my own and other youth engagement within the world of Carbon Dioxide Removal. I am looking to gain more experience in the R&D side of DAC, and am currently scheduling funding for my high school’s very own DAC prototype.