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Work in progress: Collaborating for the safe governance of carbon removals in the EU

The first phase of Carbon Market Watch’s carbon removals co-creation process, “CO2ol Down”, is almost over. Fabiola De Simone explains how this cool project aims to heat up EU action on the bloc’s 2040 target and upcoming legislative process  

At the beginning of this year, Carbon Market Watch embarked on an ambitious project to improve how the European Union currently deals with carbon removals. 

Together with a wide group of stakeholders representing academia, civil society, and industry its objective was to co-create common and concrete policy solutions for governing removals in a way that is compatible with the bloc’s emissions reduction ambitions.  

These proposals coincide with the setting of the EU’s 2040 climate target, which is expected to trigger a revision of the EU Climate Law and the package of policies needed for its implementation.

The process

In an effort to include a wide range of voices and backgrounds, our first step was to map key actors and potential partners for our project. We then conceptualised, with the help of experienced co-creation consultants, our own collaborative policy design process. Our idea was to structure workshops that encouraged teamwork and enhanced interaction between partners. That is why we opted for small group discussions and brainstorming via collaborative writing practices.

Particular attention was paid to creating a setting where the right spirit and mindset among partners could flourish. Participants were encouraged to trust the process and to not exclusively push their own agenda, but to be as open as possible to real exchange of ideas and compromise.

We also set clear rules for the process, including the establishment of an editorial group composed of a small selection of stakeholders and coordinated by CMW. In addition, it was clarified that only those participants who agreed would be credited as co-creators.

The workshops

Workshops gathered around fifty interested participants, bringing a range of different opinions and perspectives, but that agreed on the fundamental principle of identifying policies and targets for emissions, land sequestration, and permanent removals as separate. The collective were immersed in a co-creation assembly for three full days, over a period of three months, one online and two in person.

The first workshop was dedicated solely to incorporating key carbon removals principles in a proposal for a revision of the Climate Law. The second workshop centred on brainstorming ideas and policy recommendations for permanent removals instruments. The third and final workshop focused on tightening the proposals drafted by the editorial group and on assessing participants’ potential endorsement of the results.

Results and next steps

The joint collaboration led to the drafting of two important preliminary results: a proposal for the revision of the European Climate Law to ensure that carbon removals are used to supplement emissions reduction and clarify the different roles of permanent removals and land sequestration; and a set of policy recommendations on dedicated EU instruments for permanent removals.

The vast majority of participants (more than 80%) were satisfied with the content and quality of the results, and expressed their willingness to bring the proposals to their organisations for final endorsements. All participants expressed their support and enthusiasm for the methodologies used during the co-creation process.

Over the next weeks, CMW will work to finalise the policy proposals and seek endorsement from participants before proceeding with the publication, external outreach to the EU institutions and European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change, and a launch event. 

We will also seek support for proposals from organisations or individuals who did not directly participate in the workshops. Should you be interested in updates on the final proposals and listed as a supporter, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Heading towards autumn, we will also seek further collaboration with the CO2ol down partners to draft a recommendation document for the Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement. The co-creation continues…

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