Measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) is a process of quantifying, reporting and verifying the impact of different types of climate mitigation activities. For carbon dioxide removal (CDR), as different CDR technologies and approaches are being developed, methods to measure their effectiveness must also be devised. MRV is needed in the near term to measure efficacy, create transparency and provide accountability around carbon removal claims to help grow the industry and build public trust. In the longer-term MRV will be needed to incorporate CDR activities in countries’ national inventories to count progress toward goals in nationally determined contributions (NDCs). 

Project-level MRV is already used today in the voluntary carbon market (VCM), where carbon removal credits are bought and sold, but it is less developed in the context of federal policy support for carbon removal. At the same time, the U.S. government has directed billions of dollars in the past several years to support CDR research, development, demonstration and deployment to reduce cost and scale the carbon removal industry to help meet the U.S. government’s long-term climate goals. These policies each have some stipulations around MRV, but they are not always consistent or detailed.

As federal funding for carbon removal increases in scale and scope, development of a federal MRV function to guide and oversee MRV for CDR in federal policy will help build confidence in this growing industry. A federal MRV function could help avoid some of the challenges already being faced in the VCM around proliferation of and inconsistency across quantification standards.

How MRV is done today for the generation of carbon removal credits.

This paper lays out the landscape of MRV for CDR today and then explores what an MRV function and ecosystem for CDR could look like in the context of federal policy. We lay out seven principles to be considered as part of such a function and look at ways to manage quantification uncertainty and reversal risk, which are inherent to different CDR approaches at varying levels. A federal MRV function would help establish, coordinate and improve a broader MRV ecosystem that would build on existing efforts and include government agencies, academics, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and other actors.   

The paper aims to inform those working on project- and technology-level MRV for CDR within the federal government, federally funded efforts and other stakeholders working toward improving the quality and consistency of MRV for CDR. 

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