Listen to the full interview here:

On December 14, 2018 Katherine Romanak was interviewed by the Texas Standard and broadcast on Texas public radio for a story on the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP24) and what governments, businesses, and people can do about the climate.

For the past two weeks, leaders from some 200 countries met in Poland for the UNFCCC COP24 conference and are “still struggling with what exactly to do about the climate getting warmer. What are governments, businesses, people supposed to do?” asks the Texas Standard.

To answer this Texas Standard producers assembled an expert panel including: Brady Dennis, a reporter for the Washington Post focusing on the environment and public health issues and who’s currently in Poland for the climate conference; Justin Penn, lead researcher in chemical and oceanography from the University of Washington in Seattle; and Katherine Romanak, research scientist at the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin who spoke at the conference last week.

Every person can do their part by “looking at every single material object that you use every day, and see it as a carbon emission,” Romanak said. Because everything has a carbon price tag attached to it—whether it was the manufacture plant where it was produced or the car exhaust emissions on its way to get to you—that counts as a carbon emission.

Romanak shares that you can estimate your own contribution to carbon emissions at the U.N.’s Climate Neutral Now website, and then buy credit to offset unavoidable emissions to become personally carbon neutral or even carbon negative, effectively removing your own or some of the emissions of other people or industries. Credits are available through the UN Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) program.

You can then view current projects in developing countries and shop for the projects that you support that “reduce, avoid or remove greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere” which you can fund through your carbon offset.

It’s one part of the solution to cut emissions like Penn says in the interview, but we will still have to find a way to remove emissions that have already been added to the atmosphere or develop ways to mitigate unavoidable emissions. Some have said that carbon capture and storage may be the only backstop we have, the Texas Standard suggests.

The technology already exists, Romanak says, that can capture carbon before it enters the atmosphere and store it deep under the ground in geological formations. The technology exists and has been carefully studied and monitored for 20 years. Now the cost needs to come down.

Recent work has gotten the cost of capture down 67%, says Romanak. “We’re getting there.”

Photo by: Doman84/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

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