Smith, S. M., Geden, O., Nemet, G., Gidden, M., Lamb, W. F., Powis, C., Bellamy, R., Callaghan, M., Cowie, A., Cox, E., Fuss, S., Gasser, T., Grassi, G., Greene, J., Lück, S., Mohan, A., Müller-Hansen, F., Peters, G., Pratama, Y., Repke, T., Riahi, K., Schenuit, F., Steinhauser, J., Strefler, J., Valenzuela, J. M., and Minx, J. C.

The State of Carbon Dioxide Removal – 1st Edition

in, 19.01.2023

Sonstige , Applied Sustainability Sciences

Scaling up Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) is an urgent priority, as are efforts to rapidly reduce emissions, if we are to meet the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. Scenarios for limiting warming to well below 2°C involve removing hundreds of billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere over the course of the century. Drawing together analysis across several key areas, this report is the first comprehensive global assessment of the current state of CDR.

We find a gap between how much CDR countries are planning and what is needed in scenarios to meet the Paris temperature goal. The size of the “CDR gap” differs across scenarios, depending on how we choose to transform the global economy towards net-zero emissions. However, there are currently few plans by countries to scale CDR above current levels, exposing a substantial shortfall.

CDR involves capturing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it durably on land, in the ocean, in geological formations or in products. Examples include reforestation, biochar, Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) and Direct Air Carbon Capture and Storage (DACCS). For the first time, this report compiles an estimate of the total amount of CDR currently being deployed around the world.

Almost all current CDR (2 GtCO2 per year) comes from “conventional” CDR on land, primarily via afforestation, reforestation and management of existing forests. Scenarios that limit warming to 1.5°C or 2°C require further increasing current forest sinks, as well as minimising emissions from deforestation. By 2050, land-based removals approximately double in 1.5°C pathways and increase by around 50% in 2°C pathways compared to 2020 levels. In the near term, several countries plan to maintain or slightly increase conventional CDR on land by 2030, which is on its own a huge challenge requiring dedicated policies and management.

Virtually all scenarios that limit warming to 1.5°C or 2°C require “novel” CDR, such as BECCS, biochar, DACCS, and enhanced rock weathering. However, only a tiny fraction (0.002 GtCO2 per year) of current CDR results from novel CDR methods. Closing the CDR gap requires rapid growth of novel CDR. Averaging across scenarios, novel CDR increases by a factor of 30 by 2030 (and up to about 540 in some scenarios) and by a factor of 1,300 (up to about 4,900 in some scenarios) by mid-century. Yet no country so far has pledged to scale novel CDR by 2030 as part of their Nationally Determined Contribution, and few countries have so far published proposals for upscaling novel CDR by 2050.