Deprez, A., Leadley, P., Dooley, K., Williamson, P., Cramer, W., Gattuso, J.P., Rankovic, A., Carlson, E.L., Creutzig, F.

Sustainability limits needed for CO2 removal

in Science, 01.02.2024

Peer Review , Land Use, Infrastructure and Transport

Many governments and industries are relying on future large-scale, land-based carbon dioxide (CO2) removal (CDR) to avoid making necessary steep greenhouse gas (GHG) emission cuts today (1, 2). Not only does this risk locking us into a high overshoot above 1.5°C (3), but it will also increase biodiversity loss, imperiling the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMGBF) goals (4). Such CDR deployments also pose major economic, technological, and social feasibility challenges; threaten food security and human rights; and risk overstepping multiple planetary boundaries, with potentially irreversible consequences (1, 5, 6). We propose three ways to build on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) analyses of CDR mitigation potential by assessing sustainability risks associated with land-use change and biodiversity loss: estimate the sustainable CDR budget based on socioecological thresholds; identify viable mitigation pathways that do not overstep these thresholds; and reframe governance around allocating limited CDR supply to the most legitimate uses.