With carbon dioxide removal (CDR) becoming more prominent in global decarbonization efforts some challenges have appeared when it comes to defining it and creating policies to support it. The Carbon Business Council (CO2BC) has released an issue brief that outline these challenges and offers several solutions to help accelerate CDR.
One of the main challenges is the narrative that pits CDR against the outright reduction of CO2 emissions. The notion that the two act against each other with CDR diverting resources from the deployment of renewables has been appearing more frequently of late.
Part of the issue here also seems to be the confusion about carbon capture and carbon removal, with the two often mistakenly categorized as the same technology.
Toby Bryce, the lead author of the brief writes that “..CDR is not, and cannot be seen as, a substitute in any way for the strong prioritization of rapid and steep reduction of global GHG emissions”.
According to him the ways carbon dioxide removal has been described in policy documents are incomplete and should be standardized by outlining the different methods of carbon removal, listing the key criteria for measuring them and aligning everything with IPCC definitions.
The variety of carbon removal methods is another important point in the CO2BC issue brief. With CDR approaches ranging from nature-based like geological, terrestrial and oceanic, to utilizing CO2 in various man-made products, this “portfolio of approaches” will need policies that address all pathways.
The brief also provides recommendations for placing five criteria at the core of future policies for CDR:
- Additionality – achieving net new CO2 removal
- Durability – keeping in mind that there are a variety of CDR approaches, different policies should support appropriate levels of carbon storage
- Net-negativity – the removal of more CO2 than the projects emit
- Verification – have full lifecycle analysis with adequate measuring, monitorng and verification
- Equity and Community Engagement – equitable distribution of economic benefits without creating environmental damage
The CO2BC also issued a policy brief for the 2023 U.S. Farm Bill suggesting a path towards increasing CDR by embedding it within agriculture, forestry and aquaculture.