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Expert Voices: Global Thermostat CEO Paul Nahi

Sep 8, 2022
Photo illustration of Paul Nahi with an image of the earth's atmosphere and abstract shapes.

Photo illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios. Photo: courtesy of Global Thermostat

Today we're talking with Paul Nahi, who was hired as CEO of direct air capture company Global Thermostat this week.

Why he matters: Nahi has led climate technology companies for decades, including major stints leading construction and solar companies. He joins Global Thermostat at a critical time for direct air capture technology, which experts contend is still years away from commercial revenues.

The below responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

What in your view was the big story this week?

  • The flood of climate tech deals and onshoring announcements since the Inflation Reduction Act was signed on August 16, which is still only three weeks ago! There’s now an official acknowledgement that we need to act, we need to act fast, and a clear recognition that we can do this while creating jobs and increasing the GDP. Any narrative to the contrary is false. And if we don’t, we’ll be disadvantaged to other economies that have made the appropriate investments. 

What would you add to the narrative?

  • The dollar amount of the IRA, the $135 billion in tax credits it creates, is just the tip of the iceberg. This will create many times more than that in private investment, in a global clean energy market that's already worth $23 trillion. The new law provides initial financial incentives for growing industries, but it’s also a signal to the market that there’s real money to be made.

By contrast, what’s being underreported or under-covered?

  • Carbon removal has matured to become an essential element of the climate solution: It’s not just about renewables any longer. Along with tax credits for wind, solar, energy storage, green hydrogen and EVs, the IRA more than triples the incentive for carbon removal. This is an acknowledgement of the critical importance of direct air capture for achieving our 1.5° C climate target. After a decade of development, proven technologies like ours can now scale up to meet the new threshold and then go far beyond that.

In three words, what one change would you make to accelerate investment in climate tech?

  • Advance market commitments. They are coming and they’ve been shown to be essential for pulling technologies such as vaccines into the market quickly. We’re confident of direct air capture's ability to be a great financial investment, and we would want the markets to acknowledge that. The pieces are coming together — technology, finance, incentives. Now the markets need to mature, and the most promising way to do that strategically is through advance market commitments.
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