Quantifying global carbon dioxide removal deployment

Powis, C.M., Smith, S.M., Minx, J.C., & Gasser, T. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4882-2647 (2023). Quantifying global carbon dioxide removal deployment. Environmental Research Letters 18 (2) 024022. 10.1088/1748-9326/acb450.

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Project: Permafrost thaw and the changing arctic coast: science for socio-economic adaptation (Nunataryuk, H2020 773421), GeoEngineering and NegatIve Emissions pathways in Europe (GENIE, H2020 951542)


Despite the importance of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) in most climate change mitigation scenarios that limit warming to well below 2 °C, the study of CDR is still a nascent field with basic questions to be resolved. Crucially, it is not known how much CDR is currently deployed at a global scale, nor how that compares to mitigation scenario estimates. Here, we address this problem by developing an estimate of global current CDR activity. We draw on national greenhouse gas inventory data combined with CDR registries and commercial databases to estimate that global anthropogenic activity presently generates ∼1985 MtCO2yr−1 of atmospheric removals. Almost all of these—1983 MtCO2yr−1—are removals from land-use, land-use change and forestry. Non-land-management CDR projects such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, direct air capture with carbon capture and storage and biochar remove only about 2 MtCO2yr−1. We compare this estimate with Shared Socioeconomic Pathways projections of CDR deployed in 'well-below 2°C' mitigation pathways. In so doing we demonstrate current CDR deployment would need to grow exponentially to keep the world aligned with most 'well-below 2°C' scenarios, which see CDR deployment growing between 75% and 100% per year between 2020 and 2030, adding ∼300–2500 MtCO2 in total CDR capacity. To conclude we discuss uncertainties related to our estimates, and suggest priorities for the future collection and management of CDR data, particularly related to the role of the land sink in generating CDR.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA)
Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA) > Exploratory Modeling of Human-natural Systems (EM)
Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE)
Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE) > Integrated Assessment and Climate Change (IACC)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2024 13:02
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2024 13:02
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/19455

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