The IPCC 1.5°C Special Report states that, in addition to the urgent need to cut CO2 pollution, significant carbon dioxide removals (CDR) will be necessary over this century. However, there are potentially risks involved in getting CDR policies wrong. Counting on removals that fail to materialise or are easily reversible could undermine climate efforts, and/or provide a dangerous distraction from prioritising and investing in emission reductions.
CDR is also high on the EU’s political agenda. The Climate Law makes it legally binding for the EU to achieve a balance between greenhouse gas emissions and carbon removals at the latest by 2050. The European Commission also included CDRs in its proposal for the 2030 headline climate target. In addition, the Commission is continuing its work on carbon farming and a ‘carbon removal certification mechanism’.
A first step to avoid pitfalls related to CDRs is to set a robust but flexible definition that will allow policymakers to determine which technologies and practices lead to real carbon removals, and which ones do not.
At this event, organised by Bellona and Carbon Market Watch (as members of the European Horizon 2020 NEGEM project), we will test and receive feedback on how to define the ‘negative’ in negative emissions. Our proposed definition is based on a paper by Tanzer and Ramírez, and builds upon four crucial principles any technology or practice must uphold before it can deliver carbon dioxide removals:
- Carbon dioxide is physically removed from the
- The removed carbon dioxide is stored out of the atmosphere in a manner intended to be permanent.
- Upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions, associated with the removal and storage process, are comprehensively estimated and included in the emission
- The total quantity of atmospheric carbon dioxide removed and permanently stored is greater than the total quantity of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere.
14:00 – 14:10 Welcome by Bellona
14:10 – 14:25 Opening by Terhi Lehtonen, Environment State Secretary, Finland
14:25 – 14:55 Principle 1 – Removal of CO2 from the atmosphere
- Christoph Buettler, ClimeWorks (Direct Air Capture and Storage)
- Lorie Hamelin, University of Toulouse (Soils and biochar)
- Heidi Sorensen, Head of Oslo Climate Agency (Waste-to-Energy with CCS)
14:55 – 15:35 Principle 2 – Storing CO2 in a manner intended to be permanent
- Graeme Sweeney, Zero Emissions Platform (CO2 Capture and Storage)
- Kelsey Perlman, Fern (Forestry Management)
15:35 – 15:50 Break from our screens to stretch our legs
15:50 – 16:20 Principle 3 & 4 – Getting the accounting right
- Andrea Ramirez, TU Delft
- Peter Zapfel, European Commission, DG Clima
16:20 – 16:30 Wrap up by CMW – which problems can a good definition solve?