Analysing issues of fairness for Carbon Dioxide Removal

The Carbon Dioxide Removal Options: Policies and Ethics (CDR-PoEt) project examines policy instruments and pathways towards fair deployment of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement. Climate Analytics leads analysis of fairness in regard to carbon removal deployment in long-term emissions pathways.

, Co-head of Climate Policy, Berlin

Project period
October, 2021 – October, 2024

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Perspectives Climate Research
Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

Carbon dioxide removal is the process of taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it durably in geological, terrestrial or ocean reservoirs to achieve net negative CO2 emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has shown that while rapid and deep emissions cuts must be the priority, deploying carbon dioxide removal will be necessary to balance emissions in relatively hard-to-abate sectors if net zero CO2 and net zero greenhouse gas emissions are to be achieved.

However, less than 1% of the amount of technological carbon dioxide removal expected to be needed by 2030 has been deployed so far. Technologies for achieving permanent carbon dioxide removal – such as direct air capture and storage – remain in their infancy. And land-based options come with a series of challenges, including vulnerability to worsening climate impacts (storms, drought, fires), competition with food production and other land uses, and potential negative impacts on communities and nature.

Scaling carbon dioxide removal in line with the emissions reductions consistent with the Paris Agreement will require a systematic investigation of policy pathways to get there, including an assessment of fair distribution of responsibilities to achieve carbon dioxide removal. This is the key focus of the CDR-PoEt project.

Climate Analytics leads the projects’ third work package, focussed on fairness considerations around deployment of carbon dioxide removal technologies in long-term emission reduction pathways, and seeks to publish new peer-reviewed science on two questions:

  1. What are the factors that can influence the scale of carbon dioxide removal deployment necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement?
  2. How can the responsibility for carbon dioxide removal deployment be distributed between state and non-state actors?


    Uncompensated claims to fair emission space risk putting Paris Agreement goals out of reach

    Based on scenarios underlying the IPCC's 6th Assessment Report, in this paper we construct a suite of scenarios that combine the following elements: (a) two quantifications of a moral claim to the remaining carbon space by South Asia, and Africa, (b) a 'highest possible emission reduction' effort by developed regions, and © a corresponding range for other developing regions. Our findings raise important questions of perspectives on equity in the context of the Paris Agreement including on the critical importance of climate finance.

    07 February 2023

    An emission pathway classification reflecting the Paris Agreement climate objectives

    The 2015 Paris Agreement sets the objectives of global climate ambition. The scientific community has explored the characteristics of greenhouse gas emission reduction pathways in line with the Paris Agreement. However, when categorising pathways, the focus has been put on the temperature outcome and not on emission reduction objectives. Here we propose a pathway classification that aims to comprehensively reflect the climate criteria set out in the Paris Agreement.

    17 June 2022

    Institutional decarbonisation scenarios evaluated against the Paris Agreement 1.5°C goal

    This study analyses six institutional decarbonisation scenarios published between 2020 and mid 2021, including four from the oil majors (two from BP), and two developed by the International Energy Agency IEA. It finds that most of the scenarios would be classified as inconsistent with the Paris Agreement as they fail to limit warming to ‘well below 2 ̊C, let alone 1.5 ̊C, and would exceed the 1.5 ̊C warming limit by a significant margin.

    16 August 2022