Yuwono, B., Yowargana, P., Fuss, S., Griscom, B.W., Smith, P., Kraxner, F.

Doing burden-sharing right to deliver natural climate solutions for carbon dioxide removal

in Nature-Based Solutions, 28.12.2022

Peer Review , Sustainable Resource Management and Global Change

Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) figures prominently in modelled pathways to achieve the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting global warming to 1.5-2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. However, national roles and responsibilities to deliver CDR have been informed with CDR quota analyses that focus on developed economies and global major emitters. This study extends the discussion to implications for developing countries. For that purpose, we employ a diverse set of allocation methods on a wide range of global emissions scenarios to address equitability and uncertainty in sharing the burden of climate change mitigation. We further focus on tropical developing countries due to their large potential for natural climate solutions (NCS) that deliver CDR. Our analysis indicates the potential for stringent CDR quotas for the top seven countries that contribute ∼60% of pantropical cost-effective NCS potential, with median national quotas across emissions scenarios ranging from 0.1-29 GtCO2. However, the results reveal strong heterogeneity of quotas and inherent bias across allocation methods making agreement on an ‘equitable’ quota unlikely. Competition among NCS and non-NCS CDR options may arise when ambitious CDR quotas are implemented in countries with vast forest areas or large potential for expansion of tree cover. Therefore, it is important to not use CDR quotas to evaluate national climate actions or to inform climate targets that could exacerbate trade-offs between emissions reduction, biodiversity and ecosystem services in these NCS-rich countries. Instead, results from burden-sharing exercises could foster higher ambition if used to inform voluntary cooperation mechanisms. Discrepancy between perceived fairness and CDR quotas should be critically and transparently embraced to encourage acknowledgment of socio-ecological co-benefits as compensation. Such an approach will allow tropical developing economies to prioritise protection and restoration of nature in their climate change mitigation pathways.