September 27, 2023
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How to avoid carbon removal delaying emissions reductions

In some cases, using, or planning to use carbon removal may risk delaying or stopping emissions reductions. Such cases are commonly referred to as ‘mitigation deterrence’ or ‘moral hazard’. Much of the literature on this topic tends to remain theoretical, seeking to understand if and when this happens. This discussion paper is an effort to take the conversation to a practical level, giving clear suggestions for how countries and companies can manage such risks depending on why carbon removal is used and by whom.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines three distinct roles of carbon removal:

  • Supporting net zero targets alongside emission reductions
  • Neutralising hard-to-abate emissions at net zero
  • Achieving net negative emissions to reverse temperature overshoot.

For each use case, the report lays out 12 specific policy and accountability recommendations that can both remove factors that encourage mitigation deterrence and create guardrails to limit its impact.