This study focuses on the conditions for meeting the Paris Agreement targets, regional variation in the options for greenhouse gas removal, the scope for inter-region cooperation to reduce climate policy costs and how greenhouse gas removal technologies will interact with low carbon energy systems.

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is funding a £8.6 million UK research program on greenhouse gas removal. The consortium with IIASA and high-level researchers from the UK has received £1.6 million funding for a multi-year project on "Comparative assessment and region-specific optimisation of GGR" - making this consortium the highest funded in this round.  

This highly interdisciplinary project will advance scientific understanding in the context of the engineering and physical science elements of the key Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) technologies, Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) and Direct Air Capture (DAC). The project incorporates both global and UK-specific foci and project outcomes will provide evidence relevant to UK-specific climate policy needs and the over-arching impacts on global climate mitigation.

IIASA Ecosystem Services and Management researchers are involved in the trans-disciplinary modelling of GGR deployment. In specific, ESM researchers will be working on developing BeWhere-UK with special emphasis on negative emissions. 

Following the Paris agreement of December 2015, the world has committed to limiting climate change to well below 2°C of warming, and pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C. With large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere being assumed in all scenario-based climate models consistent with these aims, it is clear that Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) technologies will be required at very significant scale if this goal is to be achieved.

However, the technical feasibility, economics, implementation mechanisms and wider social, political and environmental implications of GGR remain poorly understood. It is currently highly uncertain whether any single GGR technique, or combination thereof, can be implemented at the scales likely to be required to avoid dangerous climate change and without causing significant co-disbenefits or unintended consequences.

Important knowledge gaps for GGR include those relating to technological efficiency, environmental impacts, scalability, cost-effectiveness, governance, geo-political equity, social impacts, financing and public acceptability. As a result, the constraints on the effective future implementation of GGR are only poorly characterized in model pathways, if at all.

This project aims to address these knowledge gaps in the specific context of bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) and the Direct Air Capture of CO2 (DAC), explicitly accounting for direct and diffuse land demands and indirect land use change impacts including on soil carbon dynamics, forest area and carbon stocks (above and below ground) and land management effects on the lifetime balance of CO2 removed from the atmosphere. In addition, we will explicitly address the regional, bio-geophysical and geo-political limits of BECCS and DAC deployment via a comprehensive and dynamic comparative technology assessment informed by underpinning physics-based models.