In the report, the researchers warn about a large gap between how much CDR is needed to meet international temperature targets and how much governments are aiming to deliver. Though the authors find a shortfall in policies to support CDR spread, they also said that research, innovation and public awareness around CDR are all rising fast.
More than 20 global CDR experts, led by Dr Steve Smith, from Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, came together to deliver the findings.
Dr Smith, Executive Director of Oxford Net Zero and CO2RE, the national hub for greenhouse gas removal, said, “To limit warming to 2°C or lower, we need to accelerate emissions reductions…the findings of this report are clear: we also need to increase carbon removal, by restoring and enhancing ecosystems and rapidly scaling up new CDR methods.”
He adds, ‘Many new methods are emerging with potential. Rather than focusing on one or two options we should encourage a portfolio, so that we get to net zero quickly without over-relying on any one method.’
Meanwhile, Dr Oliver Geden of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, explains, ‘CDR is not something we could do, but something we absolutely have to do to reach the Paris Agreement temperature goal.
At present, most current CDR comes from conventional removal methods on land – primarily via planting trees and managing soils. The report says countries will need to maintain and expand this going forward. But this is nowhere near enough, according to the experts.
According to Dr Geden, ‘More than 120 national governments have a net-zero emissions target, which implies using CDR, but few governments have actionable plans for developing it. This presents a major shortfall.’
CDR GAP AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES
In the report, the authors points out that all pathways to limiting temperature rise require new CDR technologies, such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), biochar, enhanced rock weathering and direct air capture with carbon capture and storage (DACCS). “Currently, these make up only a tiny fraction of current CDR, approximately 0.1%. But, if the CDR gap is to be closed, there needs to be rapid growth of these new CDR technologies – by a factor of 1,300 on average by 2050,” according to the report.
Nevertheless, the report insists, CDR is not a silver bullet and does not lessen the need for deep cuts to emissions. Our dependence on CDR can be limited by reducing emissions fast and using energy more efficiently, say the report authors.
But, says co-author Professor Gregory Nemet, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs, ‘Innovation in CDR has expanded dramatically in the past two years given the orders of magnitude the CDR industry needs to grow by mid-century to limit warming, there is an urgent need for comprehensive policy support to spur growth.’
In conclusion, Dr Jan Minx, from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) in Berlin, maintains, ‘The state of CDR research, development and policy lags behind – similar to renewables 25 years ago. Good decisions and accelerated progress in the field of CDR require adequate data. This report will help improve this situation step-by-step with the wider CDR community.