COP22 and Carbon Removal Preview

The Center for Carbon Removal team will be in Marrakesh, Morocco to participate in the 22nd annual meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (a.k.a. COP22). Here’s what to expect over the next two weeks of negotiations and side events, and why it is important for the carbon removal field.

Background: Last year’s COP21 meetings gave birth to the historic Paris Agreement (which officially came into force on Nov. 4th). After the Agreement was announced last December, I wrote about why it was a monumental achievement, but also only the first step in a long journey towards reducing emissions and cleaning up excess CO2 from the sky. A recent report from the UNEP reinforces this finding: the Paris Agreement provides a good framework and first step, but much more more action is needed to make the goals laid out in Paris a reality.

The 2016 UNEP Emissions Gap Report shows that the Paris Agreement framework will need to inspire much greater climate action than currently pledges by participating countries in order to meet the climate targets the Agreement lays out.

The 2016 UNEP Emissions Gap Report shows that the Paris Agreement framework will need to inspire much greater climate action than currently pledges by participating countries in order to meet the climate targets the Agreement lays out.

Expect incremental steps at Marrakesh, which can have critical ramifications for carbon removal in the long-term. Over the past year, we have seen a number of incremental actions related to carbon removal, and it is likely that the COP22 negotiations will continue to iron out details left unfinished last year in Paris. The Carbon Brief has a good recap of many of the key issues on the negotiating table, including accounting, financing, and transparency. Carbon removal, however, is notably absent from this list of what is likely to keep the diplomats busy at COP22. While carbon removal will likely remain under the radar until the IPCC issues its report on the 1.5C temperature limit and efforts from the National Academies study on a carbon removal research agenda start to make it clear exactly what research priorities need tackling, the few COP negotiations will likely have significant ramifications for carbon removal solutions in the future. Most immediately, the COP negotiations can impact carbon removal through...

Agriculture and Forestry: A big area where are might see some real progress related to carbon removal at COP22 is in the agriculture and forestry sector. This blog from CIFOR does a great job of summarizing some of the key opportunities that international actors can influence around REDD+, financing landscape restoration and resilience, and Climate Smart Agriculture movement. Ensuring that land use conversations include discussion about how to measure and incentivize carbon sequestration in soils and biomass can help encourage such practices around the world.

Innovation and Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS): Like the Paris Agreement Mission Innovation also turns 1 year old in Marrakesh. As more details get ironed out around Mission Innovation, large amounts of funding could become available for CCUS approaches that offer a pathway to large-scale carbon removal in the industrial sector in the future. There will likely be more CCUS-related activity this year at the COP than their have been in years past. For example, the launch of the Global CO2 Initiative CCUS roadmap, as well as a handful of events organized by the Global CCS Institute will build upon the launch of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) last week.

Businesses and sub-nationals continuing play a prominent role: While civil society has long played a major role in COP activities, multi-national companies and elected officials from state and local governments pushed national-level politicians to take aggressive action at COP21. Events such as the Low Emissions Solutions Conference offer opportunities for these actors to continue to push the national-level conversation towards more climate action.


Want to keep up to date on what’s happening at COP22? Stay tuned here as the CCR team will be on the ground in Morocco and sharing updates on Twitter and via the blog.