Emissions reductions alone are no longer enough to put us on track for a safe and manageable future for humanity, according to a new report, released on 5 December by internationally renowned climate experts, the Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG).
The report states that urgent action is needed to critically examine the full range of climate interventions, including the removal of excess GHGs from the atmosphere, and repairing parts of global and regional climate systems.
CCAG is advocating for an evidence based, balanced approach to climate interventions – particularly carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and climate repair biomimicry techniques that require further investigation before deployment. The group is calling for urgent work to rapidly deepen understanding of these techniques to ensure any future use is viable and safe.
As the world likely moves past its 1.5°C threshold and the effects of the climate crisis continue to heighten, the focus on climate interventions will only sharpen. The report makes clear that strong governance and guidelines for deployment will likely be needed calling for unprecedented levels of international cooperation. It notes that policies must be developed for each phase of CDR, including the research, development, and rollout– allowing for the fact that the social, economic and environmental impacts will vary, and acceptability of interventions must be determined on this basis.
Dr Fatima Denton, CCAG member and Director of the United Nations University – Institute for Natural Resources in Africa – commented: “Climate interventions are context-specific and must recognise the importance of bringing relevant stakeholders into the room when discussing their feasibility. For instance, in Africa, countries are often treated as one homogenised block, when the opportunities and obstacles they each face are entirely different. Country-specific evidence and stakeholder involvement is therefore crucial for determining the viability of climate interventions.”
One part of the solution
While the report maintains it is more important than ever that we examine and evaluate potential climate interventions, it also acknowledges that CDR and climate repair will only help achieve climate goals if deep and rapid reduction of GHG emissions is also intensified.
Each of these – emissions reduction, removal, and climate repair – depends on people, groups, societies and nations viewing the measures as acceptable and important. It is therefore vital that interventions are presented as only a small piece in a big puzzle and that they are not oversold as a total solution, nor as a complete disaster. As in both extremes, people are less likely to engage with the bigger picture of emissions reductions.
Sir David King, founder and chair of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, commented:“Societies must be assured that the deployment of CDR and repair measures do not replace the urgent need for deep and rapid emissions reductions, and interventions should not be seen as a way to avoid the root cause of our climate problems.
But the simple fact is we are running out of time, and we must start to fully consider all the options at our disposal. This COP28, nations, policy experts, scientists, and industry experts must work together and commit to scientific exploration of climate action or risk missing the boat entirely.”