Travis Caddy is the Business Development Director at Evident where he oversees strategy and partnerships across multiple registries certifying the Clean Economy. He joined Evident in early 2020 after graduating from University College London with a bachelor’s degree in Geography. In his previous role, Travis was the Product Manager for C-Capsule, one of Evident’s emergent registries for durable GGR.
How did you first come across Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR)?
Like many, we navigated through the different stages of the carbon cycle at school, from how trees and plants draw down carbon via photosynthesis to our footprint on the planet as humans through burning fossil emissions. Afforestation and reforestation were framed as solutions to restore any required balance to the carbon cycle but even as recent as the 2010s, the British curriculum did not educate climate change as an existential threat, nor was it confirmed as anthropogenic.
The concept of GGR as a distinct discipline was first introduced to me early in my career at Evident. In late 2020, we were approached to develop a registry and certification standard for durable carbon removal, otherwise known today as C-Capsule. Access to information was fairly limited and often conflated with point-source carbon capture. Joining online communities such as Airminers and The Open Air Collective helped open doors to learning and networking. I was blown away by both the novelty but also the ancient wisdom of GGR technologies, including biochar, whose earliest proponents were Amazonians some 2,500 years ago.
Who inspired you when you were looking to get into the industry?
My grandparents are a constant source of inspiration. Together, they co-founded an ecovillage in Northern Scotland during the 1960s and were the catalysts for me choosing a career in climate. Spending time in Scotland and growing up next to the Peak District helped me realise a connection with the rest of nature and affinity to look after the nonhuman realm. My university education helped me understand this inherent relationship as an expression of ‘biophilia’, a hypothesis from one of the world’s pre-eminent entomologists, Edward O. Wilson. Though not directly linked to GGR, Wilson and other greats such as Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson remain as idols and sources of hope amidst the twin crises in climate and nature.
What aspect within your role now is motivating you?
I find the different policy plays on either side of the Atlantic fascinating. When it comes to standards and certification, the EU has been keen to legislate quality of supply from the outset through the CRCF (Carbon Removal Certification Framework). By contrast, the US aren’t wasting any time and just wants to build a market through demand drivers like the IRA. I’m excited to see how the UK builds on these opposing approaches following their recent business models announcement and intention to develop their own methodologies. Protocol development has become increasingly fragmented and proprietary in the VCM so I’m looking forward to having robust MRV become public goods for the entire market.
Where do you see the biggest gaps and need for further resources?
Two gaps worth highlighting are:
Education. Like any early-stage technology or solution, the GGR community can often find itself speaking in echo chambers, whilst the average layperson knows little to nothing, let alone our critical need for GGR. In 2024, we need to raise awareness amongst the general public, SMEs, local policymakers and bridge the gap between the naysayers.
Talent. GGR will one day be the size of the fossil fuel industry. That requires millions of human capital to resource. This means getting GGR on the curriculum of schools and universities to inspire the next generation. It also means helping existing energy sector workers transition from the energy sector by harnessing their existing skills and knowledge.
What advice would you give someone looking to get into GGR?
Sign up to Airminers Bootup Programme. Their 6-week course will give you a high level-introduction to all things GGR, including the demand-drivers, different methods and interaction with carbon markets. You’ll learn interactively with other GGR rookies, make a friend along the way or even meet a future co-founder.
Volunteer through the OpenAir Collective. They have a bunch of active and emergent missions that are always in need of volunteers to help reach their goals. One that I’m currently involved in is enabling distributed biochar production in Nakivale, Uganda, home to the world’s largest and oldest refugee camp. Working with Marius Ziganira and his community to get this project off the ground has been incredibly rewarding.
Shoutout to the founders of these epic initiatives who have attracted so many more to the GGR community: Tito Jankowski, Jason Grillo, Chris Neidl and Matt Parker.
Can you describe your 2050 vision for GGR?
We have reached net zero, removing as much as we emit. GGR is a trillion dollar-industry, diverse in its deployment and employs millions around the world. Fossil fuel companies have transitioned towards carbon management after reaching Peak-Oil, recognising new value propositions beyond extraction. DAC hubs will populate America and the Middle East, whilst Europe will champion BECCS. Kenya and Iceland will be geological superpowers in mineralisation. Deforestation will have ended, with old forests on their way to being restored and new ones seen growing up. Soils will be enriched globally through biochar and enhanced weathering, helping to reverse desertification and increase food security. Finally, cities will become unlikely sinks through biophilic design; retrofitted with trees, green walls and rooftop gardens.
By 2050, we will have begun harnessing a gigatonne-scale GGR industry to drawdown legacy emissions and put us on a path to reverse anthropogenic climate change. We are well on our way to a stable climate and thriving civilisation.
This vision may sound like a pipedream but I always find it easier to be motivated by hope instead of fear. Check back with me in 26 years time!