Issue 8, 2022

CO2 removal and 1.5 °C: what, when, where, and how?


The international community aims to limit global warming to 1.5 °C, but little progress has been made towards a global, cost-efficient, and fair climate mitigation plan to deploy carbon dioxide removal (CDR) at the Paris Agreement's scale. Here, we investigate how different CDR options—afforestation/reforestation (AR), bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), and direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS)—might be deployed to meet the Paris Agreement's CDR objectives. We find that international cooperation in climate mitigation policy is key for deploying the most cost-efficient CDR pathway—comprised of BECCS, mainly (74%), and AR (26%)—, allowing to take the most advantage of regional bio-geophysical resources and socio-economic factors, and time variations, and therefore minimising costs. Importantly, with international cooperation, the spatio-temporal evolution of the CDR pathway differs greatly from the regional allocation of the Paris Agreement's CDR objectives—based on responsibility for climate change, here used as a proxy for their socio-economically fair distribution. With limited, or no international cooperation, we find that the likelihood of delivering these CDR objectives decreases, as deploying CDR pathways becomes significantly more challenging and costly. Key domestic bio-geophysical resources include geological CO2 sinks, of which the absence or the current lack of identification undermines the feasibility of the Paris Agreement's CDR objectives, and land and biomass supply, of which the limited availability makes them more costly—particularly when leading to the deployment of DACCS. Moreover, we show that developing international/inter-regional cooperation policy instruments—such as an international market for negative emissions trading—can deliver, simultaneously, cost-efficient and equitable CDR at the Paris Agreement's scale, by incentivising participating nations to meet their share of the Paris Agreement's CDR objectives, whilst making up for the uneven distribution of CDR potentials across the world. Crucially, we conclude that international cooperation—cooperation policy instruments, but also robust institutions to monitor, verify and accredit their efficiency and equity—is imperative, as soon as possible, to preserve the feasibility and sustainability of future CDR pathways, and ensure that future generations do not bear the burden, increasingly costlier, of climate mitigation inaction.

Graphical abstract: CO2 removal and 1.5 °C: what, when, where, and how?

Article information

Article type
09 May 2022
07 Jun 2022
First published
14 Jun 2022
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY-NC license

Energy Adv., 2022,1, 524-561

CO2 removal and 1.5 °C: what, when, where, and how?

S. Chiquier, M. Fajardy and N. Mac Dowell, Energy Adv., 2022, 1, 524 DOI: 10.1039/D2YA00108J

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported Licence. You can use material from this article in other publications, without requesting further permission from the RSC, provided that the correct acknowledgement is given and it is not used for commercial purposes.

To request permission to reproduce material from this article in a commercial publication, please go to the Copyright Clearance Center request page.

If you are an author contributing to an RSC publication, you do not need to request permission provided correct acknowledgement is given.

If you are the author of this article, you do not need to request permission to reproduce figures and diagrams provided correct acknowledgement is given. If you want to reproduce the whole article in a third-party commercial publication (excluding your thesis/dissertation for which permission is not required) please go to the Copyright Clearance Center request page.

Read more about how to correctly acknowledge RSC content.

Social activity