22 May 2018

Negative emissions—Part 2: Costs, potentials and side effects


The most recent IPCC assessment has shown an important role for negative emissions technologies (NETs) in limiting global warming to 2 °C cost-effectively. However, a bottom-up, systematic, reproducible, and transparent literature assessment of the different options to remove CO2 from the atmosphere is currently missing.

In part 1 of this three-part review on NETs, we assemble a comprehensive set of the relevant literature so far published, focusing on seven technologies: bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), afforestation and reforestation, direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS), enhanced weathering, ocean fertilisation, biochar, and soil carbon sequestration.

In this part, part 2 of the review, we present estimates of costs, potentials, and side-effects for these technologies, and qualify them with the authors' assessment. Part 3 reviews the innovation and scaling challenges that must be addressed to realise NETs deployment as a viable climate mitigation strategy.

Based on a systematic review of the literature, our best estimates for sustainable global NET potentials in 2050 are 0.5–3.6 GtCO2 yr−1 for afforestation and reforestation, 0.5–5 GtCO2 yr−1 for BECCS, 0.5–2 GtCO2 yr−1 for biochar, 2–4 GtCO2 yr−1 for enhanced weathering, 0.5–5 GtCO2 yr−1 for DACCS, and up to 5 GtCO2 yr−1 for soil carbon sequestration. Costs vary widely across the technologies, as do their permanency and cumulative potentials beyond 2050. It is unlikely that a single NET will be able to sustainably meet the rates of carbon uptake described in integrated assessment pathways consistent with 1.5 °C of global warming.


Sabine Fuss et al 2018 Environ. Res. Lett. 13 063002


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