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In line with climate science, Climeworks calls for a clear distinction between emissions reductions and carbon removals

To maximize our chances of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced at an unprecedented speed over the next decades: CO₂ emissions must decrease by at least 90% by 2050 according to the SBTi. In addition, carbon dioxide removal (CDR) solutions are needed to neutralize any residual emissions and thus enable the world to achieve net zero CO₂ by 2050.

In line with what climate science states, Climeworks is calling for a clear and distinct role of CDR, which can be summarized as follows:

  • Besides emission reductions, CDR has an important role to play in the fight against global warming.

  • More importantly, it has a different role to play and should not be substituting emission reductions.

  • Hence, emission reductions and CDR should be clearly distinguished from each other – in climate pathways, target setting as well as in industry standards.

  • A clear distinction is moreover needed in marketplaces and certificates generated from the two activities: whilst they are important and meaningful for the achievement of a net-zero world, credits generated from emissions reductions and avoided emissions should cease to exist, as soon as we have achieved net-zero state. At the same time the world will continue to rely on CDR markets to neutralize residual and historic emissions to maintain net-zero CO₂, and later on realize net-negative CO₂ emissions globally.

  • Further, by explicitly splitting the contributions from emission reductions and removals, moral hazard is addressed, namely the claim that investing into CDR today could distract from emission reductions.

Climeworks calls for a clear distinction between emission reductions and carbon removals

Climeworks' statement

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Thanks to Adina Braha-Honciuc, Microsoft's Director of Sustainability Policy in Europe, Eve Tamme, Managing Director at Climate Principles, Mark Preston Aragonès, Policy Manager Carbon Accounting at Bellona Europe, Philip Moss, Global Director for Tech Removals at South Pole, Matthias Krey, Secretary General, and Christiaan Gevers Deynoot, Deputy Secretary General, of the CCS+ Initiative as well as Zeke Hausfather, Climate research lead at Stripe, for providing supporting quotes on this important topic.

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