Accepted paper:

Carbon removal from below: understanding tensions between discourses of drawdown versus negative emissions


Holly Buck (University of California Los Angeles)

Paper short abstract:

While "negative emissions" have appeared as an artifact of global modeling, there is also a current of popular discourse on carbon removal, marked by a narrative of regeneration, drawdown, and reversing climate change. This paper looks at the politics enabled by these different conceptualizations.

Paper long abstract:

The academic and policy literature on "negative emissions" is emerging at the same time as grassroots groups are becoming engaged around reversing climate change, yet these two emerging literatures are rarely in conversation. Both the high-level and grassroots communities understand the problem in a consonant way — the need to draw down carbon concentrations — yet there are some differences in interpreting the science, as well as the possibilities for achieving this goal. For example, community advocates tend to be focused on regenerative agriculture and soil carbon sequestration, while people thinking about negative emissions state a need for CCS, and in many cases, appraisals of what is possible or realistic are widely divergent. Drawing from semi-structured interviews, this paper looks at the tensions between the top-down literature on negative emissions and the bottom-up discourse on reversing climate change. It looks at some reasons why different actors are appraising these techniques so differently, and analyzes the ways the academic and citizen communities understand the politics of carbon removal.

panel A23
The politics of negative emissions