The study concludes that novel carbon removal needs to increase 30-fold by 2030 to achieve the emissions reductions required to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) and ideally no more than 1.5 C (2.7 F) by the end of the century.
Achieving ‘net zero’ emissions by mid-century — a goal many countries are aiming for and experts say is necessary to meet the targets agreed in the 2015 Paris climate accord — would require an increase in carbon dioxide removal by a factor of 1,300 and few countries have realistic plans for doing so, the authors said.
“We are really lagging behind significantly when it comes to carbon removal,” said study co-author Jan Minx of the Berlin-based Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change.
“If we want a robust strategy to achieve the Paris climate goals then we need to restrict dependence on carbon removal ... through rapid and far-reaching emissions reductions,” he said. “But at the same time the expansion and development of carbon removal methods needs to be boosted.”
Oliver Geden of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, who also contributed to the report, said natural means of carbon removal, such as reforestation, are currently more cost-effective than artificial methods. But there are limits to how much land can be devoted to forests and rising global temperatures increase the risk that carbon stored that way could be released again, such as through wildfires.
He noted the rapid rise of solar and wind power plants as examples for how new technologies could have a measurable impact on efforts to curb climate change.
The authors of the study say they plan to regularly publish a regular ' State of Carbon Dioxide Removal.'