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By the middle of this century, an estimated 7 to 9 gigatonnes of CO2 will need to be removed from the atmosphere each year if temperature rises are to be kept below the key threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to a key report by more than 50 international experts.  

The 2024 State of CDR report aims to inform researchers, policymakers and practitioners on the state of progress, by systematically collecting and analysing the vast amount of data and developments in many parts of the world.  

The report is clear:  

“There continues to be a gap between the amount of CDR in scenarios that meet the Paris temperature goal and the amount of CDR in national proposals. The CDR gap can be closed by rapidly reducing emissions, scaling up a portfolio of both conventional and novel CDR methods, and explicitly integrating sustainability considerations into CDR policy.” 

Currently just 2 billion tonnes per year are being removed, mostly through conventional methods such as tree planting. 

Novel technologies – including biochar, enhanced rock weathering, direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS) and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) – contribute 1.3 million tonnes.  That’s less than 0.1% of the total. 

The authors make it clear that a diverse range of CDR methods must be rapidly scaled up to address climate change in line with the Paris Agreement,  

 CDR has undergone rapid growth in research, public awareness and start-up companies. However, there are now signs of a slowdown in development across multiple indicators. 

While investment in CDR research and start-ups is going to an increasing variety of novel methods, few of these methods are currently targeted in government policies and proposals to scale CDR, which accounts for just 1.1% of investment in climate-tech start-ups.  

 Dr Steve Smith of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford explains, 

‘Given the world is off track from the decarbonisation required to meet the Paris temperature goal, this shows the need to increase investment in CDR as well as for zero-emission solutions across the board,’  

The report notes that CDR companies have high ambitions which, taken together, would drive CDR to levels consistent with meeting the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. However, the authors say these ambitions have little ground for credibility at present and depend on a much stronger set of policies than currently exists.  

Dr Oliver Geden, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, comments:  

‘Deploying a diverse CDR portfolio is a more robust strategy than focusing on just one or two methods. Research, invention, and investment in start-ups show diversification across CDR methods. However, current deployment and government proposals for future implementation are more concentrated on conventional CDR, mainly from forestry.’ 

Dr. Stephanie Roe, Global Climate and Energy Lead Scientist, WWF, comments:   

‘To meet the Paris Agreement, any kind of climate mitigation must be done sustainably. This report finds that the more sustainable scenarios have higher amounts of emissions reductions and therefore deploy less CDR cumulatively. For the CDR that is needed, it is vital that environmental and social sustainability are explicitly embedded into planning and policy to minimize risks and maximize co-benefits.’ 

The annual State of Carbon Dioxide Removal report is a combined effort of over 50 international experts. It is the world-leading scientific assessment of how much carbon dioxide removal will be needed to limit climate change, and whether or not the world is on track to deliver. 

Dr Luke Williams, Head of Research Programmes, Carbon Technology Research Foundation, comments:  

‘The State of CDR Report is an invaluable tool for those seeking to understand the sheer scale of the barriers in the area.  There is no shortage of excellent ideas, but without the ambition to match, they will remain just that – ideas.  Reducing carbon emissions is necessary, but not sufficient, to reach net zero.  Additional funding for research, development and deployment to push new technologies forward and more supportive policies to pull them through are both urgently needed.  Global focus is required to solve this global problem, and I am grateful to the authors of the report for providing the necessary impetus.  The world must act now.’