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PRESS RELEASE

Achieving Europe’s ambitious net-zero target will require rapid scale up of many different carbon removal methods. If done right, tomorrow’s release of the EU’s 2040 Climate Targets and the Industrial Carbon Management Strategy have the potential to join the Carbon Removal Certification Framework in kickstarting a significant push for the removal of EU’s historic and residual carbon emissions, turning Europe into a true leader of global carbon removal policy. However, unnecessary limitations on the types of carbon removal technologies could impede success.

According to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)., we need to remove up to 10 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere every year by 2050. In this context, tomorrow’s release of the 2040 EU Climate Targets and the Industrial Carbon Management Strategy could not have come at a better time. European Commission’s communication on the 2040 Climate Targets marks a crucial step in the EU’s path to achieving climate neutrality by 2050 and reaching net negative emissions, with carbon removals playing a vital role.

The European Union (EU) is boldly asserting its commitment to combat climate change through various initiatives, with the ambitious goal of becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. As the third-largest global economy, the EU’s policies wield substantial influence in UN and country-level deliberations, underscoring the EU’s role in shaping global climate policies. Positioned as a frontrunner in carbon removal technology, Europe’s policy frameworks are likely to be picked up across the world. With this in mind, it is imperative that Europe establishes a positive precedent in carbon removals, paving the way for the rest of the world to emulate.

EU 2040 Climate Targets

Tomorrow, February 6, the EU will unveil its 2040 Climate Targets, aiming for a 90% net-emission reduction in emissions. The primary focus remains on emission cuts, and a key aspect involves incorporating 75 MtCO2 of ‘industrial’ carbon removals. This step is vital for moving closer to net-zero as carbon removals will be dealing with the planet’s residual and historical emissions.

It’s important that all permanent carbon removal activities contribute to the goal without favouring a specific technology. Relying solely on methods like DACS or BECCS risks falling short of the IPCC-mandated goal to remove gigatons of carbon dioxide. To increase the chances of success, a diverse portfolio of solutions is needed, ensuring adherence to strong quality criteria that ensure permanence of carbon dioxide removal. Therefore, the EU 2040 Climate Targets should establish a target for permanent carbon removals. All carbon removal technologies that can demonstrate carbon dioxide is permanently removed from the atmosphere should contribute to the target. This would set a strong signal that the EU is not passing on the responsibility of dealing with the climate crisis to future generations.

What is more, focusing carbon removal efforts on a limited number of technologies may limit deployment and overlook the significant contributions many countries can make based on their own country characteristics, such as geology, renewable energy availability, land use, and coastline. Employing diverse strategies ensures wider participation and maximizes global potential for effective carbon removal.

Industrial Carbon Management Strategy

Tomorrow, 6 February, also marks the European Commission’s release of the Industrial Carbon Management Strategy, which will for the first time set out how the European Commission will support the deployment of carbon dioxide removal methods to offset challenging greenhouse gas emissions from heavy industry and residual fossil fuel use. On a positive note, the EU is exploring how carbon removals can be integrated into emissions trading, providing clarity for companies and indicating a commitment to reducing the costs of carbon removal activities.

However, uncertainties persist regarding the overall climate architecture, specifically regarding the 2040 Climate Targets. The absence of detailed information on how the Carbon Removal Certification Framework (CRCF) will be used in the future further contributes to the sector’s challenges. Additionally, the Commission’s layout of the Industrial Carbon Management Strategy blurs the distinction between carbon dioxide removals (CDR) and carbon capture and storage (CCS), causing confusion in their roles and potential misunderstanding among stakeholders.

Carbon Removal Certification Framework (CRCF)

The CRCF represents the key building block needed to integrate CDR into European climate policy. It is imperative that the CRCF upholds a technology-open approach by developing definitions for carbon removals and permanent storage that are clear, inclusive, and open to the best available science on carbon removal technologies. Over 350 companies, including Microsoft, Shopify, and the X-Prize, recently signed an open letter calling for tech openness in the CRCF. It seems like the text agreed on during the final Trilogue on February 19th will show significant progress on this front, ensuring the CRCF can live up to its full potential.

 

Quotes:

  • Dave Hillyard, Carbon Technology Research Foundation “Scientists are making breakthroughs today in CDR technologies that will provide the solutions for the greenhouse gas removals of tomorrow. It is vital that policy makers keep a technology-open approach by developing definitions for carbon removals and permanent storage that are clear, inclusive, and open to the best available science and innovation on carbon and other greenhouse gas removal technologies. We welcome new stringent targets by the EU and hope that this will help unlock more funding for further research, development and deployment of technologies for scalable removals.”
  • Jan Minx, Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change: “The State of Carbon Dioxide Removal report has laid out clearly that there is not only a climate action gap in terms of GHG emissions reductions, but also in terms of carbon dioxide removal. One thing is clear: we will only meet the Paris climate goals and reach our 2050 climate neutrality goal in Europe, if we address both gaps and complement accelerated GHG emissions reductions with a rapid scale-up of carbon removals. For this carbon removals will need to be an integral part of European climate policy.”
  • Rodica Avornic, Carbon Gap: “Carbon Gap welcomes the 2040 climate targets Communication setting an EU 90% net GHG emission reductions target compared to 1990s. While it’s encouraging that the Commission set separate twin targets for emission reductions and carbon removals, specific sub-targets for land-based and high-durability removals must also be introduced to account for the contribution of different CO2 removal methods working on different time scales. Otherwise, it will not be possible to account for CDR’s contribution to the 2040 and 2050 climate targets and reach durable net zero”
  • Chris Sherwood, Negative Emissions Platform: “The Negative Emissions Platform is pleased to see the EU leading the way, but if it is to achieve its goals it will need to be clearer and more ambitious about setting out a roadmap for the financing and deployment of a broad portfolio of carbon removals. Every EU Member State can find its CDR sweet spot.”
  • Jane Flegal, Stripe Climate: “The science is clear: reaching our climate goals means dramatically reducing emissions and removing huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. Setting separate and independent targets ensures we’re grabbing the bull by both horns. Importantly, it sends a strong demand signal to the carbon removal industry to start building.”

The European Union is likely to make a historic stride in the global fight against climate change as it reveals its highly anticipated 2040 Climate Targets and Industrial Carbon Management Strategy tomorrow. With the ambitious objective of establishing the EU as the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, these legislative initiatives carry significant implications for both the region and the world.

The spotlight is squarely on carbon removal methods to address the challenge of anthropogenic emissions, with a clear emphasis on the necessity of diverse technical solutions.

While the strategies hold the promise of substantial progress in climate action, uncertainties persist, notably concerning the integration of the Carbon Removal Certificate Framework (CRCF), the delineation between carbon removals and storage and the need for embracing a portfolio of carbon removal technological solutions.

Interview opportunities:

Representatives from Carbon Technology Foundation as well  as others  quoted, are available for interviews to provide expert perspectives on the implications and significance of the 2040 Climate Targets, the Industrial Carbon Management Strategy and the Carbon Removals Certification Framework as well as on the importance of carbon removals for meeting climate goals.

Contact details of quoted representatives (email and phone number):

  1. Jan Minx, Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change

Email: minx@mcc-berlin.net

  1. Rodica Avornic, Carbon Gap

Email: rodica@carbongap.org

  1. Chris Sherwood, Negative Emissions Platform

Email: chris.sherwood@negative-emissions.org

  1. Dave Hillyard, Carbon Technology Research Foundation

Email d.hillyard@ctrfoundation.com

Contact Information

For media inquiries and interview requests, please contact:

Philippa Mina, Communications and Impact Manager, p.mina@ctrfoundation.com 07967712689