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Carbon Dioxide Removal after Paris

Mar 29, 2020

Albert C. Lin

Volume 45 (2018) - Issue 3

Notwithstanding adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate change, mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions appears unlikely to achieve the stated goal of limiting the mean global temperature increase to 2°C. Under many scenarios, achieving this goal would require not only vigorous mitigation efforts, but also the deployment of carbon dioxide removal technologies or solar geoengineering. While serious consideration of solar geoengineering remains fraught with peril, the use of carbon dioxide removal to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it elsewhere appears increasingly likely. Carbon dioxide removal techniques generally would have to be undertaken on a massive scale to be effective. However, the techniques are not ready for deployment, and their widespread use would impact land use, biodiversity, food security, water availability, and other resources.

Such impacts demand greater attention to managing carbon dioxide removal efforts and their effects. The Paris Agreement does not directly mention carbon dioxide removal, however, and relatively little attention has been directed toward carbon dioxide removal governance thus far. This Article explores key issues of carbon dioxide removal governance, such as promoting the generation of information, mainstreaming carbon dioxide removal into public and policy discussions, and furthering carbon dioxide removal development while avoiding lock-in of suboptimal technologies.