Parallel Session 2.8: Interdisciplinary CDR

Wednesday, 11:00 - 12:30
02 I Elysium

Methods to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere impact on a range of physical and human systems and are intertwined with mitigation and adaptation approaches through land use, food systems, energy policy and water quality. There are a number of trade-offs, implications, risks and opportunities for different CDR methods and approaches that may influence the feasibility of large scale deployment of such techniques. Crucial bottlenecks or co-benefits of particular combinations of CDR, mitigation and adaptation strategies may play a crucial role in realising large scale CDR implementation and are important to identify.  This session invites submissions that cover all forms of CDR and a range of disciplinary perspectives from policy to public perceptions to physical science and human system impacts.



  • Nils Markusson - A cultural political economy of mitigation deterrence by Greenhouse Gas Removal techniques
    • Authors: Duncan McLaren, Nils Markusson, David Tyfield
    • Most modelling pathways that avoid 2˚C global warming rely on a promise of future use of still unproven greenhouse gas removal techniques (GGRs). There is ongoing debate about how prudent this is, and whether discussing such alternatives may deter mitigation (Anderson and Peters 2016). Given the challenging carbon budgets implied by the Paris Accord, any reduction or delay in mitigation could be critical. Yet without a sound theoretical foundation it is extremely difficult to detect any such mitigation deterrence (McLaren 2016) or political moral hazard (Corner and Pigeon 2014) effects.
      We examine different disciplinary approaches to the analysis of mitigation deterrence. In contrast to the predominant individualistic, managerial and (neo-classical) economistic approaches, we develop a framework based in the cultural political economy of science and technology (Tyfield, 2012; Birch 2013; Markusson et al. 2016). We reframe the mitigation deterrence problem as a consequence of inflated expectations and excessive promises related to technical fixes co-evolving with particular political regimes. This allows us to explore how GGR promises can be expected to shape cultural, political and economic processes in society now, and so, indirectly, impact on mitigation. To illustrate, we seek lessons for GGR in experience with CCS for fossil power stations.
  • Lena Boysen - The limits to global-warming mitigation by terrestrial carbon removal with biomass plantations
    • We here analyze potentials and trade-offs of terrestrial carbon dioxide removal (tCDR) potentials with biomass plantations (BPs) until 2100. Using a biogeochemical process model, we simulate a set of possible BP scenarios – ranging from systematic and rather far-fetched assumptions of large-scale land conversion to a sophisticated transient socio-economic mitigation scenario - in combination with different levels of emission pathways.
      We show that tCDR is not a viable option to delay, stop or even reverse climate change if mitigation efforts in the near-term future are insufficient or fail completely and would induce severe trade-offs for food production and natural ecosystems. The needs for increasing food production on agricultural areas for a growing world population and the conservation of ecosystems would likely limit the land availability for BPs and thus, substantially reduce the potential for tCDR to 10-100GtC. Strictly following the land-use patterns of the mitigation scenario RCP2.6 to avoid such conflicts would still require strong increases in irrigation and highly efficient carbon processing and storage to guarantee success.
      Still, tCDR in selected places, forest conservation and restoration as well as smart and sustainable land management could still lead to substantial carbon removal on land.
  • Rob Bellamy - Public perceptions of CDR research and governance
    • Recent attempts to conduct experiments in carbon dioxide removal have demonstrated the deeply controversial nature of this field of scientific research. Social scientists have begun to document public concerns over the effective governance of research in this area, yet perceptions of what constitutes a legitimate experiment and how it should be governed remains under-researched. We report on a series of experimental deliberative workshops with members of the public designed to elicit and explicate diverse perspectives on CDR research and its governance. In contrast to previous methods of public deliberation, which have privileged egalitarian-consensual models of discourse and decision-making, we test a novel approach that places majoritarian, individualistic, and consensual forms of deliberation on an equal footing. Our study suggests that the controllability of CDR experiments is central to perceptions of their acceptability, but that controllability is itself a complex, multifaceted quality, one that draws together a set of heterogeneous concerns about the purpose and repercussions of scientific work. We theorize that the public legitimacy of CDR experiments depends on variable, context-specific combinations of controllability criteria, and that technical determinations of the proper ‘scales’ or ‘locations’ for CDR research will be poor predictors of the sorts of public concerns that will be triggered by further experimentation in this area.
  • Elmar Kriegler - IAM study of 1.5°C & 2°C pathways using a CDR portfolio approach
    • We explore the scope of limited carbon dioxide removal (CDR) portfolios to effectively constrain the economic costs and challenges of deep transformation pathways. Previous studies have focused mostly on BECCS alone, and mostly looked at economically efficient BECCS deployment levels. However, BECCS use can be strongly constrained if a larger portfolio of CDR options is taken into account. In this study, we take into account afforestation, enhanced weathering, and direct air capture in addition to BECCS. We derive 1.5°C and 2°C mitigation pathways under tight sustainability constraints on each of the four CDR options with the REMIND-MAgPIE integrated assessment modeling framework. It is shown that despite these tight sustainability limits, deep transformation pathways can be obtained without massive increases in economic challenges compared to the case of unconstrained CDR use.
  • Vivian Scott - CDR as a challenge for the EU climate policy paradigm
    • Authors: Vivian Scott, Oliver Geden
    • Mitigation scenarios consistent with the Paris objectives envisage vast deployment of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) sufficient to impact global climate but necessarily implemented at regional and national levels. Scenarios used for IPCC AR5 assume ca. 600 Gt CO2 of global gross CDR by 2100, with 50 Gt coming from the European Union (EU). Recent energy system modelling studies, aiming at cost-optimization through an uneven distribution of mitigation burdens between sectors, even suggest that the EU reaches gross CDR levels of 1 Gt per year by 2050, to be delivered solely by the power sector. As of now, the EU is completely unprepared for this task. To understand if and how CDR could enter the sphere of EU climate policymaking we not only need to consider how certain CDR techniques fit into existing sets of political preferences, economic interests, national energy mixes and infrastructures, we also need to examine how a CDR approach would fit into the dominant EU climate policy paradigm and its current core narrative that incremental emissions reductions ‘in line with science’ and support for low-carbon energy technologies will achieve global climate stabilisation and simultaneously deliver ‘green growth’.
Convened by: 

Naomi Vaughan

University of East Anglia
United Kingdom

Naomi (Nem) Vaughan is a lecturer at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia.  Her research interests focus on possible societal response options to climate change; mitigation, adaptation, carbon removal or ‘negative emissions’ and ideas of climate engineering.  Her focus is on these issues at a global scale and over a long time (e.g. centuries), how they are constrained by the Earth system (including climate-carbon cycle feed-backs) and how they interact with one another.  Nem is an interdisciplinary scientist working from a physical science background with colleagues across a range of disciplines.


Nils Markusson

University of Lancaster

Nils Markusson is a social scientist, with a wide-ranging background in engineering, innovation policy, innovation studies and science & technology studies (STS), and most recently cultural political economy. Much of his work is done in multi- and interdisciplinary collaborations, spanning social science, natural science, engineering and the humanities.

The core of his interest is about the politics of environmental technology. He wants to understand the relationship between how we develop and use technology in response to environmental problems on one hand, and political processes at varying scales in society on the other. Markusson has previously done research on cleaner technology in process industry firms, and work on CCS focussing on innovation processes, learning and lock-in. He has also published on the social construction of climate engineering. His current work is about possible interaction effects between greenhouse gas removal technologies and climate mitigation efforts.

Lena Boysen

Max Planck Institute for Meteorology

Lena Boysen is working at Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg since 2016. Here she is active in the areas of Climate Engineering on land: modelling of forest mortality (CE-Land+, SPP 1689) and Biogeophysical & -chemical effects of land-use and land cover change (simulations and analysis). From 2013 to 2016 Boysen wrote her PhD thesis on CE-Land at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Humboldt University (HU). She completed a Bachelor and Master degree in Meteorology at the University of Hamburg.

Rob Bellamy

Institute for Science, Innovation and Society (InSIS), University of Oxford
United Kingdom

Rob Bellamy is a James Martin Research Fellow in the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society at the University of Oxford. He is an environmental geographer and environmental social scientist, specialising in interdisciplinary research at the interface between human geography, environmental science, science and technology studies and social psychology. His research focuses on the interactions between climate change and society, particularly in relation to decision making, public participation, innovation governance and risk perception. Rob is currently involved in research projects on public participation in energy transitions, assessment of climate adaptation innovations, developing policy instruments for greenhouse gas removal technologies, and the socio-political feasibility of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage. He has previously been involved in projects on climate geoengineering assessment and governance.

Elmar Kriegler

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

Dr. Elmar Kriegler is a senior scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), deputy chair of the Research Domain “Sustainable Solutions”, and head of the integrated assessment modeling activities at PIK. His research focuses on the integrated assessment of climate change, scenario analysis and decision making under uncertainty. He has coordinated several international integrated assessment modeling projects such as AMPERE and EMF27 and has been a core developer of the Shared-Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs) underlying the new scenarios for climate change research. He has been a lead author for the Chapter on Transformation Pathways in the Fifth Assessment Report of Working Group 3 of the IPCC and is currently serving as a lead author for the Chapter on 1.5°C Mitigation Pathways in the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C Warming. Elmar Kriegler earned a diploma in Physics at the University of Freiburg, and a Ph.D. in Physics at the University of Potsdam, Germany. He was a Marie Curie Fellow at the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.

Vivian Scott

University of Edinburgh
United Kingdom

A researcher at the University of Edinburgh, Vivian Scott works on carbon capture and storage (CCS), energy and climate policy, and assessing the potential and consequences of 'negative emissions' technologies and approaches to support mitigation.

His research focuses on technical and policy development to support deep decarbonisation of the economy, the potential for CCS principals and technologies to be applied to manage carbon in the climate system; understanding the development of climate and energy policy and the interaction between technical and political perspectives; and understanding the role and implications of large amounts of CO2 or carbon removal and storage on the climate system. He is co-leader of the Carbon Dioxide Removal Model Inter-comparison project (CDR-MIP). More generally, he is interested in the interactions between society, the carbon cycle and climate system, and the inter-generational responsibilities and feedbacks these generate.