By Soyoung Oh
As the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) is approaching, more attention has been given to how much progress will be made in Dubai on globally pursuing CO2 removals. Despite the increasing recognition of carbon dioxide removal technologies in academia, industry, and policy, significant challenges to securing substantial funding remain. Matthias Honegger, Head of Carbon Dioxide Removals at Perspectives Climate Research, provides a roadmap for effective, systematic, and fair mobilization of funds to support carbon dioxide removal projects in his recent commentary in Nature Communications.
To date, funding has been insufficient for accelerating CO2 removal projects due to a lack of supportive policies. Honegger writes, “Most funding for CO2 removal has been voluntary and via the private sector including encouraging investments in innovation.” Examples from the private sector include Frontier from Stripe, the Climate Transformation Fund - a cooperation between the Milkywire climate fund and Klarna, and Microsoft. National policies in Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States are also emerging to pursue carbon dioxide removal initiatives. Yet, Honegger explains that the efforts need to be “strengthened and normalized internationally to mobilize CO2 removal technologies at rates commensurate with 2050 net-zero targets”. Honegger highlights the need for “tailored incentivization across sectors and countries” for an adequate portfolio of CO2 removal options.
To address it, Honegger is calling for a coalition of climate leaders to “step forward and publicly commit to executing necessary policy steps in line with existing net-zero targets at COP28” in his commentary. To effectively mobilize funds and share insights on what national policies work to scale removals and emissions-reducing CCS, he calls for a Carbon Management Commitment Coalition.
Honegger writes, “Coalition members would declare quantitative milestones for the scaling of both removals and CO2 storage aligned with their respective net-zero target years. They would each commit to devising a nationally best-suited approach to funding CO2 removals”. For instance, governments could consider imposing obligations on industry players to scale removals through sector agreements or market-based instruments.
In addition, the coalition could facilitate peer-learning as an incentive to attract less technologically advanced countries. International cooperation through carbon markets could also be made to mobilize efficient action across borders. At the same time, it would be important to differentiate CO2 removals and emissions reductions with “high standards and transparency in planning and monitoring”.
Honegger highlights that more political accountability is needed – the coalition should emerge at COP28, and members should “commit to scaling funding with intermediate net-zero aligned milestones.” Instead of fragmented efforts to scale up CO2 removals, coalition efforts could “unlock a step-change and mobilize decisive policies and funding to scale CO2 removals and storage.”