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Study shows negative emissions solutions including BECCS, DACS and NCS are all proven and can each provide at least 1Gt of sustainable negative emissions

  • New Coalition for Negative Emissions study warns that without action to deliver 1 Gigatonne (Gt) of negative emissions globally by 2025, keeping global warming within the Paris Agreement target of 1.5°C cannot be achieved
  • Study also highlights trio of negative emissions solutions that are proven, ‘ready to go’ and each capable of delivering at least 1Gt of carbon removal, equivalent to more than three times the UK’s annual CO2
  • Businesses come together to launch new Coalition for Negative Emissions to call for global action to immediately deploy large-scale negative emissions technology

Global action to deliver negative emissions technologies is falling far short of what is required to address the climate crisis warns a new study by the newly formed Coalition for Negative Emissions.

The Coalition research, conducted with knowledge and analytical support from McKinsey & Company  states that to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, as agreed in Paris in 2015, efforts to reduce emissions must be combined with annual negative emissions of up to 1.2Gt by 2025 – equivalent to more than three times the UK’s annual CO2 emissions*.

The study shows negative emissions solutions including bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), direct air capture and storage (DACS), and natural climate solutions (NCS) such afforestation, are all proven and can each provide at least 1Gt of sustainable negative emissions. In addition to achieving global climate targets, deploying these solutions at scale could create up to 10 million new jobs worldwide.

However, based on the current pipeline of projects, the Coalition research finds the level of negative emissions required by 2025 in the IPCC’s 1.5°C pathway will likely be missed by 80 per cent. Investment in negative emissions solutions must also increase by 30 times current levels to meet the needs of the 1.5°C pathway. If there is no action until 2030, around 8Gt of negative emissions debt will have been built-up, increasing the costs and disruption to society required to keep global warming within 1.5°C.

In response, over 20 leading companies, NGOs, investors and trade associations have come together to form the Coalition for Negative Emissions. The Coalition will provide policymakers, NGOs and other key stakeholders with a much-needed platform to advance global action to rapidly deploy negative emissions solutions.

Stuart Roberts, NFU Deputy President, a founding member of the Coalition for Negative Emissions, said:

“The Coalition represents a critically important opportunity for agriculture and the land-based sector to demonstrate our capability to capture carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, store carbon in farmland and couple bioenergy to carbon capture and storage technology – key elements of the NFU’s net zero ambition.

“We look forward to working with the Coalition to develop a strong domestic bioenergy supply chain, which is essential to realise GHG removals through the bioeconomy, and in our call for government support through the Environmental Land Management scheme to incentivise on-farm carbon storage in vegetation and soils.”

Will Gardiner, CEO of Drax Group, a founding member of the Coalition for Negative Emissions, said:

“Negative emissions solutions are proven and ready to go but in order to play a critical role in tackling the climate crisis, they must be deployed much faster than current projections. The UK, alongside international partners, has a once in a generation opportunity to lead the world in deploying negative emissions solutions – tackling climate change and saving economies billions while creating millions of new green jobs around the world.”

Tony Danker, Director General of the CBI, a founding member of Coalition for Negative Emissions, said:

“Tackling the climate crisis is a global challenge, demanding cross border cooperation between governments and businesses on an unprecedented scale. Negative emissions technologies are going to play a major role in helping the world decarbonise and businesses are advancing their development at pace. But unless urgent action is taken to support their deployment, we’re on track to miss vital climate targets. We need to raise global ambitions and make this the boldest year of net-zero action yet.”

Emma Pinchbeck, Energy UK’s chief executive, a founding member of the Coalition for Negative Emissions, said:

“Negative emissions technologies will have a big role to play in cutting emissions and as this report shows, are essential to meet the Net Zero target. We need action to help increase investment in proven technologies to get the scale, time and support needed for further innovation. Most global pathways to achieving decarbonisation in line with 1.5 degree of warming include negative emissions technologies, so the UK has a massive opportunity to show leadership on this, as the hosts of the international climate negotiations this year.”

Matt Gorman, Carbon Strategy Director, Heathrow, a founding member of the Coalition for Negative Emissions, said:

“Negative emissions are a vital part of the plan to achieve net zero aviation, together with in-sector decarbonisation from sustainable aviation fuels. Propelled by the findings from this report, government and industry must now work together to urgently scale up, enabling a smooth transition to net zero.”

Jonathon Counsell, Group Head of Sustainability, IAG, a founding member of the Coalition for Negative Emissions, said:

“We are proud to be a founder member of the Coalition for Negative Emissions and we welcome this report, as we believe there is very significant potential for these solutions to reduce carbon emissions and also enable UK aviation and IAG deliver to deliver on our ambition of net zero emissions by 2050.”

Steve Oldham, CEO of Carbon Engineering, a founding member of the Coalition for Negative Emissions, said:

“A portfolio of negative emissions will be critical to solve the really tough challenge of addressing climate change. Leading technologies are ready now. It’s essential we now establish a market with specific, near-term targets for removals which support more ambition and de-risk our targets”

Jens Price Wolf, General Manager, Europe for Enviva, a founding member of the Coalition for Negative Emissions, said:

“If we are serious about tackling climate change, we need to deploy negative emissions technologies urgently and at scale. These technologies do not only offer opportunities to decarbonize the energy sector, but also heavy industries such as steel and cement, making it an overarching tool to achieve our climate goals.”

Paul Davies, Group Development Director at Viridor, a founding member of the Coalition for Negative Emissions, said:

“Creating a new industry to deliver negative emissions is critical; it will deliver the ‘net’ in ‘net zero’, offsetting emissions from industries that cannot fully decarbonise. With half the emissions coming from renewable sources, energy from waste plants can contribute millions of tonnes of negative emissions right across the UK. Critical to unlocking this industry is ensuring an effective mechanism for accounting for and trading these emissions.”

Dr.Christoph Gebald, CEO Climeworks, one of the founding members of the Coalition for Negative Emissions, said:

“This landmark report outlines the need to immediately scale a portfolio of Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) solutions. Direct Air Capture with safe and permanent Storage (DACS) is a key enabler to achieve Net Zero goals on a country and indeed global level.

“Most importantly it highlights that CDR at scale, will deliver important benefits in terms of going well beyond the primary goal of restoring a liveable atmosphere by creating jobs and driving additional business opportunities.”

Nick Cooper, CEO Storegga, one of the founding members of the Coalition for Negative Emissions, said:

“Negative emissions technology will be critical to removing large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere and technical solutions such as DAC are a crucial addition to nature based solutions to attain the scale and permanence required for net zero. Alongside carbon reductions, billions of tonnes of CO2 must actually be removed from the atmosphere and the carbon cycle. By deploying Europe’s first large scale DAC facility in the UK, we are putting our country at the forefront of these net negative technologies to tackle hard to abate sectors.”

Commenting on the report’s findings, Dr Steve Smith, Executive Director, Oxford Net Zero, University of Oxford, said:

“The scale-up of negative emissions is critical to meeting the Paris agreement, alongside widespread decarbonisation. We need a portfolio of solutions because no single approach is likely to be enough and there is huge scope for innovation. Durability is important, too. Net zero requires any removed CO2 to stay locked away from the atmosphere, so we must encourage and invest in solutions that store carbon for as long as possible.”

Commenting on the report’s findings, Dr Shaun Fitzgerald, Director of Research, Centre for Climate Repair, University of Cambridge, said:

“CCRC supports the case for negative emissions and values much of the work contained in this report. CCRS are supportive of a wide range of greenhouse gas removal approaches and it’s clear that we need to scale-up urgently. In addition to the methods explored in detail in this report we would encourage research into others.

“For example, more research into restoration of the oceans is needed, and these in turn may provide further opportunities for natural carbon uptake which could be incredibly significant. Furthermore, there are concerned about rising levels of methane in the atmosphere and we need to develop techniques to tackle this. All of the approaches we need will however face similar challenges to those discussed in more detail in this report and the discussion included in chapters 3 and 4 is most helpful for the overall field of greenhouse gas removal.”


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Editor’s Notes

*According to the UK Government, in 2020, emissions in the UK of CO2 were 326Mt.

The report: The case for Negative Emissions: a call for immediate action, found that:

  • Keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees is critical to avoid catastrophic climate change. At present levels of emissions, we will exceed this level in less a decade.
  • Keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees cannot be achieved without negative emissions.
  • Annual negative emissions must increase at an industrial scale – according to the IPCC, ~0.8 Gigatonnes pa needed by 2025, and as much as 6 – 10 Gigatonnes by 2050.
  • Average negative emissions costs would be around £50 – 100/tCO2, once deployed at scale. Deploying a portfolio of negative emissions technologies could be trillions of pounds cheaper than present costs imply our understanding of the technologies develops
  • Action on negative emissions is falling dramatically short of what is required, and the IPCC’s 2025 target is likely to be missed by ~80%.
  • Five key actions needed to achieve negative emissions at scale, include:
    1. Develop a widely recognised definition of what constitutes ‘high quality’ negative emissions
    2. Create a robust market for negative emissions, and supply-side financing from individual projects
    3. Government commitments to national negative emissions targets, in addition to emission reduction targets, combined with interventions to incentivise supply and obligate demand
    4. Agree a method for how negative emissions are accounted for and tracked, enabling business to access negative emissions as part of their carbon accounting, creating an incentive for corporates to use a combination of emission reduction and negative emissions
    5. Enable global collaboration on negative emissions, to support its development and roll out.

The summary of the report’s findings can be found by visiting the Coalition for Negative Emissions website.

And a copy of the full report is available here.

About the Coalition for Negative Emissions

The Coalition for Negative Emissions (CNE) was formed to support the development of negative emissions technologies globally and includes more than 20 businesses and other organisations from a variety of sectors, including utilities, aviation, banking, energy, and agriculture.

The CNE aims to build momentum, shape policy, and develop the market for negative emissions globally. We are made up of a diverse range of companies across industries, from landowners and environmental stewards, large users and generators of energy, to technology start-ups and large manufacturers. We work across differing sectors of global economies, but we share a common vision: to develop and deploy negative emissions at a scale that will create genuine impact across the world.

For more information visit coalitionfornegativeemissions.org.

Full list of members:

  • Agricarbon
  • Bank of America
  • Biomass UK
  • Carbon Engineering
  • CBI
  • CCSA
  • Centre for Climate Repair, Cambridge University
  • Climeworks
  • Confor
  • Drax
  • Energy UK
  • Enviva
  • Heathrow
  • International Airlines Group
  • Mineral Products Association
  • MGT Teesside
  • Natural Capital Partners
  • NFU
  • Storegga
  • Petrofac
  • REA
  • United States Industrial Pellet Association (USIPA)
  • Velocys
  • Viridor