Net-Zero Emissions:
The Role of Carbon Dioxide Removal in the Paris Agreement

Net Rapido Net Zero Emissions Report

Date of publication: September 2020

Authors: Honegger, M., Michaelowa, A. and Poralla, M.

Executive summary

Achieving the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to well below 2°C or even 1.5°C requires a dramatic increase in the collective greenhouse gas mitigation ambition pursued by the international community: The implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that are revised over time ought to eventually lead to a global balance of CO2 emissions and removals (negative emissions). In 2020, Parties to the Agreement are to communicate their long-term aspirations in the form of Low Emissions Development Strategies (LEDS) outlining their vision for national climate action by 2050 in alignment with the Agreements’ global temperature target.

A growing number of Parties are putting forward net-zero emissions targets, yet credible strategies for their implementation, in particular for the large-scale continued removal of CO2 are missing. The lack of experience with planning for net-zero emissions is an enormous challenge in particularly regarding the contributions of different possible approaches to carbon dioxide removal (or “negative emissions”). Here we analyse relevant provisions for CO2 removal under the Paris Agreement in regard to NDCs, international cooperation, transparency, accounting and MRV as well as practical, sometimes highly political challenges policymakers are facing when seeking to implement CDR. Furthermore, we offer a vision of a net-zero world and how it may be achieved.

The briefing report seeks to offer practical insights for experts and decisionmakers involved in planning the implementation of net-zero emissions targets as well as for researchers and technology developers studying or developing potential negative emissions approaches.