Making Carbon Removals a Real Climate Solution
How to integrate carbon removals into EU Climate Policies
Meyer-Ohlendorf, Nils (2023): Making Carbon Removals a Real Climate Solution. How to integrate carbon removals into EU Climate Policies. Berlin: Ecologic Institute.
Carbon removals should not substitute reductions of fossil fuel emissions. Removals are an inherently weaker form of climate action than emission reductions. This has been a core principle of EU climate law, but now it is under threat. The Commission's proposal on the Carbon Removals Certification Framework puts the EU on a dangerous track that facilitates replacing emission reductions with removals. Integrating carbon removals into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme carries similar risks. Effectively, the debate on the role of carbon removals puts EU climate policies at a cross-roads.
At this critical juncture, the EU should not take the wrong turn. The EU should not build its climate policies on sand, where carbon removals with unsafe storage of carbon become a central part of climate action. To make removals a real climate solution, the EU should treat them as what they are: currently a small tool that complements emission reductions but that cannot become the EU's climate backstop.
A new report by the Ecologic Institute discusses the design elements of a robust EU carbon removal framework. Such framework should be built on
- a robust definition of carbon removals, that requires carbon storage of at least 1000 years,
- a focus on removals with truly permanent storage,
- targets and instruments that separate removals from reductions,
- a cautious approach to the integration of removals with permanent storage into the ETS and
- the development of a Removal Trading Scheme in the medium term.