Mind the Gap: How Carbon Dioxide Removals Must Complement Deep Decarbonisation to Keep 1.5°C Alive

In its new report the Energy Transitions Commission outlines the role of Carbon Dioxide Removals in meeting global climate objectives. The analysis in this report describes how CDR, alongside rapid and deep global decarbonisation, can give the world a 50% chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

All sectors of the economy can and must decarbonise by mid-century with big emission reductions in the 2020s. But even given the fastest feasible path of emissions reductions, the world will need at least 70 to 220 Gt of carbon removals between now and 2050 to limit cumulative net emissions.

These removals could be achieved via a combination of Natural Climate Solutions (such as reforestation and improved soil management), Engineered solutions (for instance using direct air capture of CO2) and hybrid solutions (such as Bioenergy plus carbon capture and storage). No single CDR solution can be deployed in significant enough volumes to deliver the emissions removals required, and each entails different costs and risks. A portfolio approach is therefore required, with solutions playing vital and complementary roles.

The ETC’s work began with a consultation paper published in May 2021, followed by a series of stakeholder workshops undertaken throughout the year, which led to an Insights Briefing launched ahead of COP26, and has culminated with the publication of this report.

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