Carbon dioxide removal technologies have an important role to play — alongside deep emissions reductions — as countries aim to reach net zero and meet their climate commitments. But these technologies and approaches are new and not well understood. Determining how they can and should be used will be an ongoing task.

A new WRI working paper, “International Governance of Technological Carbon Removal: Surfacing Questions, Exploring Solutions,” aims to set out key issues and challenges associated with carbon removal’s role in long-term climate planning. It identifies three emerging governance gaps, associated with mitigation deterrence, equity and measurement, as well as reporting and verification.

In this podcast Nicholas Walton speaks to the report’s three authors about both the challenges and the potential of using technological carbon dioxide removal to meet long-term climate goals.

Katie Lebling.

“What are the governance gaps that could help provide more guidance for countries to think about how carbon dioxide removal should fit into their long-term climate plans? The main areas we looked at are mitigation deterrence, where CDR could deter the urgency of mitigating emissions reductions; equity; and measurement, reporting and verification. Did these removals happen? How much and where, and are they still happening over time?”

Katie Lebling, WRI Associate and working paper co-author

Clea Schumer

“We need more clarity about what reaching net-zero emissions will entail. Everyone says they’ve got a target but what does that mean and how do we reach it? That will require a frank acknowledgement that carbon dioxide removal will likely play a role in achieving many of these net-zero targets.”

Clea Schumer, WRI Associate and working paper co-author

Danielle Riedl

“Who should be paying for carbon removal? How do make sure that the communities that host these projects can benefit from them and are not harmed by the uncertainties that are still surrounding many technologies.”

Danielle Riedl, WRI Research Analyst and working paper co-author