Olivia Hawrot

Aug 29, 2023

Photo of smokestack by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

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Olivia Hawrot currently works at Origen Carbon Solutions as a Research and Development Scientist and is close to submitting her PhD on the ambient carbonation of lime for Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) at Heriot-Watt university. She has a keen interest in public engagement which she has pursued throughout her academic career. Her undergraduate degree was in marine biology and oceanography and her masters was in environmental consultancy both of which have included a strong theme of climate change mitigation.

How did you first come across GGR?

I have been aware of greenhouse gas removal as a method of climate change mitigation, probably since high school, but the real scale and urgency of GGR has really been made apparent when I started my PhD in the Research Center for Carbon Solutions.

Who inspired you when you were looking to get into the industry?

Lots of people! From a young age it was the nature documentaries which really got me thinking, and gardening with my Grandparents which inspired me to care for the natural world. Then on the solution front the amazing work and progress of my supervisors, Phil Renforth and Mercedes Maroto-Valer, and authors of papers which I have found myself referring to again and again a few examples include but are by no means limited to: Klaus Lakner, María Erans and Corey Myers all of which have informed and inspired ideas for research I conducted in my PhD.

What aspect within your role now is motivating you?

What is really motivating me is seeing the enthusiasm and efforts being made across a range of talented individuals at Origen, as this brings reassurance that scaling up a CDR technology, although a colossal challenge, is possible when a team of people really put their minds to it. In addition to that enthusiasm and efforts we are gathering real data and making progress designing our CO2 contactor solution which is really exciting for me!

Where do you see the biggest gaps and need for further resources?

Public perception/understanding of CDR I think is the area which needs more attention. Currently, if you discuss climate change with the public they know we need to reduce fossil fuel consumption and maybe plant more trees, but the scale of removal which is needed alongside emission reduction is massively important.  In order to deploy these CDR technologies we need the acceptance and understanding of the public which is currently not even a thought in anyone’s mind at the moment!

What advice would you give someone looking to get into GGR?

I would say now is the time to do it! We need great enthusiastic people to join this field which is currently, in my opinion still in its infancy but hitting its growth spurt! Also, as it is quite a small field you will soon start to get familiar with all the people working in it who are all super friendly and keen to help!

Can you describe your 2050 vision for GGR?

I am looking forward to seeing technologies scaled up and prototypes built, taking them from the paper to the real world! I would love to see GGR and CDR as terms widely understood, just as the term climate change already is! I want to see policy in place to support the development of the technologies we so urgently need! This means policies which set limits on emissions separated from targets from removal, this may be essential to prevent GGR from acting as a deterrent to emission removal because we need both!