Geothermal power station in Iceland with Climeworks direct air collection system. Photo: Climeworks, Arni Saeberg.

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What role will negative emissions and carbon offsets trading play in German and European climate policy on the path to net zero?

Net zero emissions targets are the new standard for governments and businesses. But reaching them is often another story. Some emissions are hard to avoid easily, so neutralizing them by investing in climate action projects in developing countries has become a staple in many companies’ climate plans. The voluntary carbon offsets market is booming both globally and in Germany, but could be halted under the Paris Agreement’s stringent emissions budgeting rules. The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26) can present solutions for this market. But some experts are adamant that the next and only sustainable carbon market will be that of CO2 elimination. So far, only nature-based carbon uptake is available on a larger scale, but investors are preparing to develop technological solutions for carbon removal and storage. The German government has long been reluctant to adopt underground CO2 sequestration. Other European countries, however, are rushing forward. Meanwhile, critics of both carbon offsets and removals warn against greenwashing, arguing that a focus on offsets could distract from the really important task of changing usage and processes. energy in all sectors so drastically that emissions are completely avoided.

The carbon footprint: reduction and elimination of emissions as part of the net zero auction

Afforestation or carbon capture and storage? Researchers say both will be needed to achieve net zero emissions, but German politicians are slow to embrace and support all of the different carbon elimination options. Photo: Heidrun Heidecke, BUND.

“Achieving net zero emissions” by mid-century is a goal few would criticize. But when it comes to achieving a balance between greenhouse gases and carbon removal – because not all emissions from food and industrial production can be entirely avoided – views are starting to emerge. diverge. Many argue that it is high time for countries to start building a new industry of CO2 scavengers, expanding it and lowering prices, or at least normalizing the use of carbon absorption options. nature-based and readily available carbon. Others warn that relying on removal methods, whether it’s carbon storage in soils or CO2 capture from industrial processes or directly in the air, then underground storage, only draws attention to the really important task of avoiding emissions altogether. In Germany, the debate on negative emissions is accelerating, because all projections show that there will be no other solution in 2045. But a deep aversion to carbon capture and (underground) storage (CCS) ) prevents an easy decision, the European Commission is preparing carbon elimination legislation and other actors and nations are embarking on planning for the future market for carbon offsets and CO2 infrastructure.

Read the article here.

“Support direct air capture like Germany supported wind and solar” – Climeworks

In September 2021, Climeworks launched “Orca”, the world’s first and largest direct air collection and storage plant. Photo: Climeworks.

Their goal is to create an entirely new industry, which will become as important as today’s oil and gas giants as the world desperately needs to phase out carbon to mitigate climate change. Swiss start-up Climeworks has launched the world’s first and largest direct air capture (DAC) and storage facility. It will capture 4,000 tonnes of CO2 per year which will be stored in Icelandic underground rock formations. The rapid scaling of this technology is key to its future, Climeworks climate policy chief Christoph Beuttler told Clean Energy Wire. This will require government support, similar to the buy-back payments that Germany used to develop wind and solar PV, he adds. Without it, the nascent sector will thrive elsewhere and Europe could be out of the question.

Read the interview here.

The carbon offsetting market is exploding despite nagging concerns about greenwash

Planting trees in Mexico – one of the CO2 reduction projects led by the much-criticized German NGO Plant for the Planet. Photo: Plant for the planet.

With more and more companies making public commitments to “carbon neutrality” or “net-zero”, the voluntary market for carbon offsets is booming both globally and in Germany. Critics, however, consider purchasing projects that help cut emissions in the Global South, whether wind turbines, efficient stoves, or forest protection, is just a simple matter. greenwashing. Others say they are the best way to transfer money and knowledge for energy transition to developing countries where people would otherwise be forced to use fossil fuels or cut forests. But the many greedy and sometimes overly gullible emissions offsets consumers don’t always buy emissions offsets for the right reasons – and they often fall into the trap of creative carbon accounting through bogus climate projects.

Read the article here.


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