Climate ChangeEnvironment

CO2 removal, CDR solutions must quadruple to meet 1.5 ºC

CDR technologies such as DAC and BECCS contribute just 1.3 mln t CO2 per year

To achieve climate targets, the capacity of traditional and innovative solutions for CO2 removal must quadruple. Today carbon dioxide removals (CDR) based on nature – reforestation, afforestation, … – and based on technological solutions – such as direct capture of CO2 from the air or the ocean – they can barely capture 2.2 billion tons of CO2 (GtCO2) every year. In scenarios where CDR capacity is sustainable, that is, it does not compete with ecosystems and other land uses, the volume by 2050 should reach 7-9 GtCO2.

Multiplying by a factor of four the removal of CO2 at a global level requires more alignment of the national plans with the climate objectives and an adjustment of the resources allocated to the different solutions. This emerges from the second report State of carbon Dioxide Removal released on June 5, the most complete global map of the state of the art on CDR.

CO2 removal, closing the gap in a sustainable way

One of the weaknesses is the “gap between the amount of CDR in scenarios that meet the Paris temperature target and the amount of CDR in national proposals,” notes the report by the University of Oxford. By analysing national policies on conventional solutions, a CDR capacity of 2.6 GtCO2 per year is expected to rise to 3.4 GtCO2 by 2050 by 2030. But in the three different scenarios suggested by the report, which vary the mix of conventional and innovative solutions and respect the Paris Agreement, the gap to 2030 is at least 0.4 GtCO2 per year (and can rise to 3.7), while in the middle of the century it would be at least 1.4 GtCO2.

CO2 removal technologies, we need to double capacity by 2050

The CDR gap can be bridged by rapidly reducing emissions, expanding the portfolio of both conventional and new CDR methods and explicitly integrating sustainability considerations into CDR policies,” the authors point out. Trying to balance the firm’s message.

On the one hand, recognizing the absolute importance of reducing emissions at source, and therefore focusing on removing CO2 only as a complementary and residual option. On the other hand, stressing the risks and benefits of not developing a fair mix of CDR solutions, focusing too much on traditional ones (with negative impacts on ecosystems and food security) or relying too much on technological ones (often a loophole to slow down emission reductions).

The latter, today, has a minimum CO2 sequestration capacity, of 1.3 million tons per year, less than 1% of the current total capacity. And according to the authors, they should be supported by ad hoc policies and an adequate flow of investment. Which, instead, has been declining since 2020. In 2023, these technology solutions raised just $850 million, less than 1% of all clean tech investments.

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