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Certification of Carbon Removals. Part 1: Synoptic review of carbon removal solutions


Cover: Environment Agency, Austria, background photo by Pixabay from Pexels


Certification of Carbon Removals. Part 1: Synoptic review of carbon removal solutions


Bey, Niki et al. 2021: Certification of Carbon Removals. Part 1: Synoptic review of carbon removal solutions. Vienna: Environment Agency Austria.

Sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere – 'carbon removals' – is essential to achieve Europe's 2050 net-zero climate goals. This report considers twelve nature- and technology-based carbon removal solutions, evaluating their climate mitigation potential and suitability for deployment across Europe. The report supports the European Commission's development of a certification mechanism for carbon removals.

We consider twelve carbon removal options:

  • Afforestation & Reforestation
  • Agroforestry
  • Peatland rewetting
  • Improved forest management.
  • Increase in soil organic carbon on mineral soils
  • Biochar
  • Biomass in buildings
  • Direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS)
  • Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS)
  • Enhanced rock weathering
  • Carbon capture and storage (CCS)
  • Various Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) routes

Each solution is described in a multipage fiche that evaluates key aspects, such as EU mitigation potential, cost, and co-benefits and potential risks associated with the solutions. The fiches also consider key challenges for certifying carbon removals, including the risk of non-permanence and monitoring, reporting, and verification challenges.

We find that all carbon removal solutions have different strengths and weaknesses, posing different challenges and opportunities for a European carbon removal certification mechanism. For example, while nature-based solutions tend to be more mature and cost-effective than technology-based solutions, they typically pose higher risks of non-permanence. Conversely, monitoring, reporting and verification tends to be simpler for technology-based solutions, but they often have significant negative externalities, such as high electricity consumption. Each of these characteristics must be considered to design a robust and effective system to incentivise carbon removals within Europe.

Ecologic Institute led evaluations of all nature-based solutions, as part of a project funded by European Commission DG CLIMA. An accompanying report was published simultaneously, which reviews 24 existing carbon removal certification mechanisms and methodologies and identifies key lessons for designing a European carbon removals mechanism.



More content from this project

Niki Bey (Ramboll)
Larisa Maya-Drysdale (Ramboll)
Raphaëlle Stewart (Ramboll)
Cordelia Pätz (Ramboll)
Maria Naae Hornsleth (Ramboll)
Christian Heller (Umweltbundesamt GmbH)
Paul Zakkour (Carbon Counts GmbH)
Published by
125 pp.
Project ID
Table of contents
carbon removals, negative emissions, nature-based solutions, nbs, climate mitigation, soil carbon, peatlands, afforestation, certification, carbon capture, mitigation, climate change, fit for 55