Parties to the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement have agreed to pursue efforts to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C. To meet this goal, the international community will have to aggressively reduce emissions and also remove CO2 from the atmosphere on an unprecedented scale, through an array of biological and technical Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) options. This paper considers governance challenges that arise from the need to rely on CDR to meet the Paris Agreement’s long‐term temperature goal. It looks at how heavy this reliance may have to be, over what timeframe, involving what options and, crucially, how best to ensure that CDR does not, while trying to address one problem, create many other challenges for sustainable development. After identifying the potential scale and pace of CO2 removal needed to meet the 1.5°C goal, we identify key governance gaps and challenges that arise from large‐scale CDR implementation and propose a series of policy responses to be addressed by policy makers as a matter of priority, to enable CDR to contribute to 1.5°C‐consistent pathways at the scale and pace required.
- Only if Parties bring forward new and updated nationally‐determined contributions (NDCs) that are substantially more ambitious in the reductions they deliver for 2030, will reliance on CDR be reduced to a scale that may be economically feasible and avoid jeopardizing sustainable development.
- More work is needed to develop portfolios of CDR approaches that can maximize synergies with sustainable development and minimize trade‐offs in various country contexts.
- Improvements to information and accounting systems are needed to enable an ongoing assessment of progress toward net‐zero emissions and to help fashion equitable incentives for deployment.
- Issues of equity need to be considered in the design of incentives for CDR uptake: a range of tools, including direct financial support, will be needed at both ends of the spectrum – to address barriers to inexpensive no regrets CDR options and to support the commercialization of more expensive CDR options at the scale and pace required.