Climate Action Tracker Finds Countries Over-Rely On Carbon Removals

Climate Action Tracker Finds Countries Over-Rely On Carbon Removals - Carbon Herald

In its latest evaluation of net zero targets, the Climate Action Tracker – a scientific initiative tracking government climate action and measuring it against Paris Agreement targets, reveals most countries that have made net zero pledges lack detailed information on how carbon removal will take part in those pledges. 

The Climate Action Tracker analyzed closer 28 countries that have pledged net zero (as of May 2024), jointly covering 81% of global 2019 emissions. Only 15 governments provide more detailed information on land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sinks and/or engineered CDR and storage in their net zero target year. For most countries, the net zero target year is 2050, with China having a 2060 carbon neutrality target and India having a 2070 net zero target.

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The 28 countries accountable for over 80% of global emissions plan combined forest sinks of 4.7-5.7 GtCO2e, which represents 12-15% of their 2019 emissions. Eight of these countries plan for engineered carbon dioxide removals (such as direct air carbon capture) of 0.7-1.3 GtCO2e. 

The estimated costs for engineered carbon removals is up to $400 per tonne/CO2 which means governments would also need to invest hundreds of billions a year to develop them.

The analysis also points out that the remaining emissions of most countries at their net zero year amount to a minimum of 16-20% of their 2019 emissions. That means the 28 countries would reduce only up to 80-84% of their carbon footprint. Countries like Australia, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam plan to still emit more than 30% of their 2019 emissions after meeting their “net zero target”.

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The analysis finds that there is a risk of countries over-relying on carbon dioxide removals to avoid the urgent need to make rapid deep cuts in emissions and prolong the use of fossil fuels. That automatically puts the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees at risk. More deep insights on net zero pledges can be found in Climate Action Tracker’s analysis here.

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