In April 2023, Climeworks published a statement calling for a clear distinction between emissions reductions and carbon dioxide removal.
An open letter from Carbon Market Watch (CMW) with 96 signatories has been published as part of the European 2040 target setting debate, calling for “independent and distinct” targets and policies in carbon emissions, land sequestration, and permanent removals in the EU’s post-2030 climate framework.
Climeworks has signed the letter, and welcomes efforts made to set separate and clear policies for greenhouse gas emissions reductions, carbon dioxide sequestration via land-use (Land-Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry, LULUCF) and permanent carbon dioxide removals. We do believe that the letter could go one step further and separate different types of “permanent” carbon dioxide removals, as there are various CDR methods with distinct characteristics in need of differentiated policies.
Exemplarily, direct air capture and storage relies on renewable energy availability as an important enabler for carbon removal. Vice-versa, biomass-based removal methods require readily available biomass sources, which are expected to face potential capacity issues in the future (source: landgap.org). In this context, it is particularly important to highlight the difference between biomass-based and non-biomass-based carbon dioxide removals and the provision of corresponding policy indicators. A category of biomass versus non biomass-based (which would include direct air capture and storage) will help to increase governance and oversight of the attributes of these different types of permanent carbon dioxide removal.
Nonetheless, there is considerable power within a letter co-signed by such a vast range of stakeholders and we welcome CMW’s coordinated task of suggesting a dedicated permanent carbon dioxide removal track within the European Union’s climate target-setting. It proves the continued evolution of this topic, which Climeworks is thrilled to see. Last year, we published our own open letter calling for a clear distinction between emissions reductions and carbon removals, in climate pathways, target setting and industry standards. The letter received more than 80 signatories ranging from NGOs and private companies to individuals, and enjoyed broad support within the carbon removal community. We are pleased to see this discussion has continued and now includes a focus on the categorical differences within removals.
As outlined within the open letter from CMW, distinction within the EU’s 2040 target-setting can lead to clear benefits. These include, but are not limited to, avoiding delay in emissions reductions, clearly defining the role for carbon removals, enhancing governance, providing clarity for project developers, and demonstrating tangible differences between emissions reductions and removals. Going forward, we hope to see even further distinction between different types of permanent carbon removals in order to account for their individual characteristics and enable more effective climate action.
Read more about open letters driving the industry
Seventy representatives of organizations concerned with CDR, incl. Climeworks, are calling for standards to assess the performance of different CDR approaches in an open letter.