The EU is advancing on incentivising and regulating carbon dioxide removal a new online platform shows, but the lack of coordinated vision could jeopardise progress. Assessment of carbon removal policies in several individual European countries shows that some are leaping ahead while others are taking longer to negotiate hurdles.
This is the picture emerging so far on our new online platform, the Carbon Removal Policy Tracker, launched today in Brussels, which aims to provide comprehensive overview of all EU policies that directly or indirectly relate to carbon dioxide removal (CDR).
At the time of launch, the Carbon Removal Policy Tracker includes details of 11 EU-wide policies that have been adopted, are under discussion, or have been signalled by EU institutions as forthcoming proposals.
“Our analysis shows an encouraging increase in the inclusion of carbon removal across a landscape of EU policies. “However, as the web of these policies becomes increasingly complex and interdependent, what we are missing is a holistic and strategic approach to scaling up safe and effective carbon removal methods in Europe with tailored policy frameworks and economic incentives. A more integrated approach could help the EU assert its leadership in deploying CDR.”
– Andrea Klaric, Policy Director and Head of European Policy Strategy at Carbon Gap
Carbon removal will necessarily play a complementary role in the forthcoming 2040 climate targets, where the EU has its next opportunity to increase its own climate ambition and help set the goalposts for raising ambition globally.
As the web of climate policies becomes increasingly complex and interdependent, and the role of carbon removals within and across policy files is clarified, we believe that a central policy tracker is a necessary tool to help civil society actors, policymakers, and climate practitioners make sense of and participate a common EU vision for climate neutrality.
The Policy Tracker shows carbon removal cropping up across the EU policy spectrum, with policies becoming increasingly interconnected. For example, the Carbon Removal Certification Framework, and a constellation of legislation to stamp out greenwashing and govern what “claims” companies can make about their green credentials, complement each other.
The Nature Restoration and Soil Health Laws aim to combat the loss of functioning ecosystems, which will require funding models for preserving and restoring natural carbon stocks, some of which will undoubtedly rely on the EU’s Carbon Removal Certification Framework to measure how much carbon is removed in the process.
“Europe needs every tool at its disposal to achieve its climate goals and demonstrate global leadership – that means both slashing emissions and reabsorbing carbon wherever it is possible, from soils to forests to the built environment. Ambitious European climate leadership means taking responsibility to scale and down-cost innovative and critical climate solutions, including novel carbon removal methods and applying regulatory muscle to drive high-quality climate action globally.”
– Eli Mitchell-Larson, Chief Science and Advocacy Officer and Co-founder of Carbon Gap
The tracker consists of four interfaces: a policy database, map, a dashboard that users can personalise, depending on the policies they want to explore, and a resources page. This video gives a short overview of their main functions.
In addition to a comprehensive overview of EU-level policies, the new platform also assesses the degree to which CDR is incorporated into policies in individual European countries, taking a closer look at five European countries – Denmark, UK, Switzerland, Germany and France – at the time of the launch.
The content on the individual countries was developed in collaboration with CONCITO, Zentrum Liberale Moderne and Carbonfuture. We also link to Net Zero Tracker data on national net zero targets.
The analysis of the first five countries reveals that Denmark is poised to become a leader on both carbon capture and storage (CCS) and CDR, focusing on climate solutions that lock up carbon dioxide underground. Switzerland, France and the UK are making progress in many areas as well.
- Denmark’s strong emissions reduction target would require at least 8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide to be removed from the atmosphere per year by 2050.
- Denmark funds research and demonstration projects on carbon capture and injection of carbon dioxide into geological reservoirs. It offers funding and subsidies for a range of methods, including afforestation, biochar, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS).
- Denmark aims to become a carbon storage hub, offering its significant geological storage capacity in depleted oil fields in the North Sea to other European countries.
- Switzerland has specific CDR targets and aims to remove 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year within its national territory by 2050, and 5 million tonnes abroad.
- Most CDR methods are already recognised under Swiss law, and an anticipated law will require the waste sector to develop CDR or CCS capacities. It has numerous initiatives and instruments to support CDR research, development, and innovation.
- France aims to compensate for approximately 80 million tonnes of carbon dioxide of residual emissions primarily with land-based CDR methods, wood products and some BECCS.
- With its Label Bas Carbon (low-carbon label), France has established a certification framework relevant to a range of carbon removal methods.
- France still has no comprehensive strategy on CDR, no targets beyond net zero and has not implemented the required incentives and rules to spur the growth of the CDR sector to meet its current objectives.
- The UK, as part of its Net Zero Strategy, aims to remove 5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually by 2030, potentially rising to 23 million tonnes per year by 2035, using ecosystem-based and novel methods.
- The UK funds research, development and demonstration projects of various CDR methods, and commits significant funds to carbon dioxide transport and storage infrastructure.
- The government is developing policy on business models to support more systematic deployment incentives for CDR projects to commercialise (e.g., mineralisation, DACCS, and BECCS), and is exploring future integration of CDR with the UK Emissions Trading System.
- Germany, on the other hand, despite significant investment in research projects covering a wide range of nature- and technology-based CDR methods, requires further policies that would enable scaling up CDR, especially technology-based methods.
- Germany places few legal restrictions on CDR application in the land use sector, but geological storage of carbon dioxide underground is not possible under the current legal framework.
In the future, the Carbon Removal Policy Tracker will progressively assess carbon removal policies in all European countries.
If you would like to give us feedback on the tracker, email us at [email protected].
Check out the event launch below: