Negative-emissions technology portfolios to meet the 1.5 °C target

Elsevier, Global Environmental Change, Volume 67, March 2021
Rueda O., Mogollon J.M., Tukker A., Scherer L.

Our carbon-intensive economy has led to an average temperature rise of 1 °C since pre-industrial times. As a consequence, the world has seen increasing droughts, significant shrinking of the polar ice caps, and steady sea-level rise. To stall these issues’ worsening further, we must limit global warming to 1.5 °C. In addition to the economy's decarbonization, this endeavour requires the use of negative-emissions technologies (NETs) that remove the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, from the atmosphere. While techno-economic feasibility alone has driven the definition of negative-emissions solutions, NETs’ diverse, far-reaching implications demand a more holistic assessment. Here, we present a comprehensive framework, integrating NETs’ critical performance aspects of feasibility, effectiveness, and side impacts, to define the optimal technology mix within realistic outlooks. The resulting technology portfolios provide a useful new benchmark to compare carbon avoidance and removal measures and deliberately choose the best path to solve the climate emergency.