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How to avoid carbon removal delaying emissions reductions

Eli Mitchell-Larson, Sylvain Delerce and Robert Höglund of Carbon Gap have published a groundbreaking discussion paper on the tricky question of mitigation deterrence —and explored practical ways of avoiding it.

It’s clear that carbon removals are needed, but many people worry that using or planning to use them now risks delaying or stopping emissions reductions. Much of the literature on what is referred to as ‘mitigation deterrence’ or ‘moral hazard’ remains theoretical, seeking to understand if and when this happens. 

Carbon Gap’s recent discussion paper is an effort to take the conversation to a practical level, giving clear suggestions for how countries and companies can manage such risks depending on why carbon removal is used and by whom.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines three distinct roles for carbon removal:

  • Supporting net zero targets alongside emission reductions
  • Neutralising hard-to-abate emissions at net zero
  • Achieving net negative emissions to reverse temperature overshoot.

For each use case, the report lays out 12 specific policy and accountability recommendations that can remove factors that encourage mitigation deterrence and create guardrails to limit its impact.

Please follow this link to view the webinar that accompanied the launch of the paper, featuring an expert panel and moderated by The Guardian’s Fiona Harvey. Read the discussion paper online.