Conceptual vs. actual use of Greenhouse Gas Removal
(Max Planck Institute for Meteorology)
Felix Schenuit (German Institute for International and Security Affairs)
Paper short abstract:
Critical analysis of Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) has focused on the consequences of actually deploying proposed technologies. As policymakers start to accept the challenge of generating negative emissions, the focus should shift to the conceptual use of GGR in national/regional mitigation pathways
Paper long abstract:
Critical analysis of Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) has so far mainly focused on the (negative) consequences of actually deploying proposed technologies at the large-scale envisaged in global Integrated Assessment Models (IAM), e.g. by scrutinising the assumed delivery of 600-800 gigatonnes of negative emissions via Bioenergy and Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), which would require 500+ million hectares of additional land (= 1.5 times the land area of India) As policymakers start to accept the challenge of generating negative emissions, the focus should shift from the 'actual' to the 'conceptual' use of GGR in national/regional mitigation pathways. Long before proposed technologies will be deployed on a meaningful scale, this deployment will be assumed in long-term national/regional climate policy planning, supported, for example, by the integration of GGR technologies into national/regional energy systems modelling. Looking at the climate science/policy/politics interface in the European Union (EU), we explore possible ways of using negative emissions conceptually, long before their potential deployment. Introducing GGR into regional/national policy planning generates a significant amount of additional flexibility, allowing to shifting burdens between generations, countries or sectors. We show how this kind of flexibility can be attractive for both climate policy laggards and (relative) pioneers and how it therefore seems unavoidable that this new kind of national/regional 'target and trajectory gaming' will evolve into a standard practice in EU climate policymaking.
The politics of negative emissions