March 07, 2023

Carbon Gap part of the European Commission’s expert group on carbon removals

Group formed to assist the Commission’s work on developing a Carbon Removal Certification Framework (CRCF)
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Carbon Gap has been invited to join the European Commission’s Expert Group on Carbon Removals, established to assist the Commission’s work on developing a Carbon Removal Certification Framework (CRCF) and the planned delegated acts that will specify how this legislation is operationalised. The CRCF will establish overarching EU rules to govern how the climate benefits of carbon dioxide removal are quantified and verified.  

The group’s first meeting is today, 7 March 2023 and will be streame. We will be working alongside around 70 other carbon removal specialists, organisations, NGOs, civil society, representatives of relevant authorities in EU member states, and other public entities.  

“Carbon removals need to provide real, measurable, and very long-lived benefits for people and planet. Through our membership in the expert group, we will advocate for a rigorous and transparent carbon removal certification framework so the EU can deliver on its climate neutrality commitment,” said Eli Mitchell-Larson, Carbon Gap’s Chief Science & Advocacy Officer and Co-Founder. 

As we outlined in our recent factsheet, to certify removals as ‘high-quality,’ the following criteria should be applied: 

  • Create real climate benefit – certify that CO2 has been removed from the atmosphere and is being durably stored.  
  • Measurable – the removed CO2 is quantified via robust MRV rules. 
  • Permanent – CO2 should be stored away long- term (over centuries) with the goal of storing it permanently.  
  • Additional – CDR activities should go beyond what is required by other policies and regulations. 
  • Avoiding leakage – CDR activities should not cause emissions at other geographical locations due to market or other shifts. 
  • Avoiding double counting – removal certificates for the same activity should not be issued, used, or claimed more than once or by more than one entity. 
  • Avoiding unintended impacts – negative externalities should be accounted for through strict regulation to ensure that CDR projects result in no net-harm to the environment and people. 

In the run up to the European Commission’s proposal for a Carbon Removal Certification Framework (CRCF) for Europe, Carbon Gap set out a vision for how such a certification framework should be formed. We believe that such a framework should:   

  • Empower an agency to transparently administer the system, maintaining an open-access database of certified projects and taking a science-led, unconflicted governance approach. 
  • Establish guidelines, principles and baseline standards that pave the way for the certification of all safe and effective removal methods. 
  • Implement a multi-tier system for “onboarding” methodologies based on differentiated certainty levels that a carbon benefit has been delivered. 
  • Separate fundamentally different CDR methods to resolve the ‘carbon removal equivalence dilemma” (i.e., by distinguishing low-durability from high-durability methods). 
  • Foster the full spectrum of possible use cases of carbon removal certification, of which compensation-based offsetting is only one. 

“The EU has already agreed to achieve net negative emissions after 2050, but it will highly likely need to go faster and farther, eliminating the carbon that Europe has already contributed to the atmosphere. In providing expert input to the group’s work, our aim is first and foremost to ensure that removals are certified to a high-quality standard,” said Sylvain Delerce, Carbon Gap’s Science & Advocacy Director. 

Equally important to ensuring high-quality removals is tracking how they are used, and by whom. We believe that this cannot be left up to the whims of a voluntary system and will require a centralised means of tracking the fate of each unit of removed carbon. 

We believe that the EU is in a unique position to show the world what credible CDR looks like. If the CRCF is built and governed in a principled, evidence-based way then its impact will ripple through public and private sectors, not only in the EU but further afield. We look forward to lending our expertise and collaborating with the expert group towards developing a certification framework that could catalyse global scaling of high-quality carbon removals.