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Carbon removals as deterrents to climate action

Used wisely, carbon removals have the potential to complement climate action and reduce atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Used unwisely, carbon dioxide removals risk delaying or deterring climate action, enabling greenwashing and letting major polluters off the hook.

This so-called mitigation deterrence occurs when there is an overreliance on CDR available now or that could be generated in the future or when it is used to offset emissions. Allowing countries or corporations to hide emissions behind potential large-scale carbon removals in their climate strategies enable polluters to delay or postpone the rapid and real emissions reductions the world urgently needs if it is to avert the worst outcomes of the climate emergency. Deep, fast and sustained emission reductions are the priority for climate action, and removals cannot be allowed to distract from that.

What is CMW doing about it?

When it comes to carbon removals potential for deterring climate action, Carbon Market Watch focuses on:

  • Monitoring and analysing the use and misuse of carbon removals
  • Identifying and calling out the misuse of carbon removals for greenwashing purposes
  • Proposing alternative good practices to replace malpractice

“CDR should not be used to deter climate action. Offsetting continued emissions with removals must be a non-starter. Instead, CDR must also contribute to protecting biodiversity, ecosystems and local communities rather than harm them. Enhancing the land sink is important from a climate perspective, but the real focus should be on the wider environmental and social benefits of such activities: carbon should be relegated to a ‘co-benefit’.”

Wijnand Stoefs

Lead expert on carbon removals

“CDR should not be used to deter climate action. Offsetting continued emissions with removals must be a non-starter. Instead, CDR must also contribute to protecting biodiversity, ecosystems and local communities rather than harm them. Enhancing the land sink is important from a climate perspective, but the real focus should be on the wider environmental and social benefits of such activities: carbon should be relegated to a ‘co-benefit’.”

Wijnand Stoefs

Lead expert on carbon removals

What changes is CMW demanding?

Focusing on rapid and deep emissions reductions

Banning the use of carbon removals for offsetting purposes

Prohibiting exaggerated green claims that rely heavily on CDR, such as carbon or climate neutral

Latest

Doing accounts

The EU’s double counting problem

Motivated by a desire to keep down the cost of achieving its climate targets, the EU has failed to rule out the double counting of emissions reductions under its Carbon Removals Certification Framework. By so doing it is undermining established standards and its own policies.

Highlighted

How to make carbon removals work for climate action in the EU
Regrettably, the European Commission’s proposed Carbon Removal Certification Framework (CRCF) falls short of this potential. It needs major changes if this framework is to become an effective tool for climate action. This document sets out Carbon Market Watch's series of recommendations and suggestions for the original text.

The science is clear: removals must complement, not substitute, emission reductions

Contact our experts

Wijnand Stoefs
Lead on Carbon Removals

wijnand.stoefs[at]carbonmarketwatch.org

Fabiola De Simone
Expert on Carbon Removals

fabiola.desimone[at]carbonmarketwatch.org

Marlène Ramón Hernández
Expert on Carbon Removals

marlene.ramon[at]carbonmarketwatch.org

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