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Roadmap from the EU Commission supporting sustainable carbon removal solutions

  • Global
  • Energy and infrastructure - Clean energy

28-09-2021

The EU Commission has published a Roadmap relating to an initiative supporting the development of sustainable carbon removal solutions. The initiative aims to develop a long term vision for sustainable carbon cycles and to kick-start the development of technological and nature based solutions, at a scale conducive to the EU’s objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2050 and net negative thereafter. Such solutions will aim to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (e.g. direct air capture, DACs) or from industrial processes (e.g. carbon capture utilisation and storage) in terrestrial and marine ecosystems, geological reservoirs or products and contribute to removing several hundred million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year from the atmosphere.

The Roadmap acknowledges that no significant technological carbon removals are taking place today in the EU and there is no regulatory framework mandating or incentivising such solutions. It also recognises the ongoing need for carbon in other processes (such as a feedstock to produce sustainable synthetic fuels, plastics, chemicals and other advanced materials) and the importance of using existing waste carbon sources than virgin fossil carbon:

“There are currently insufficient incentives to create a competitive industrial market for capturing, recycling, and storing carbon.”

To kick-start nature based solutions, the Commission will present the EU carbon farming initiative to promote a new green business model rewarding land managers for climate friendly practices. The new business model should provide them with a new source of income by means of financial inventive to encourage activities leading to carbon removals and storage. The Commission will also address how to foster the research and deployment of technological solutions.

For corporates looking at carbon offsetting, the schemes that come out of this might be future sources of carbon credits, depending of course on their final designs.

In addition, the Commission will clarify a regulatory framework for the certification of carbon removals, allowing only for authentic, transparent and verifiable carbon removals to be certified.

The Roadmap is open for feedback until 7 October 2021, and responses will inform the detailed Communication which is the likely output of this work. The EU Commission then plans to adopt the Communication in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Martin Weitenberg, Partner, comments "carbon removal is, besides avoiding greenhouse gas emissions, an important aspect to achieve net-zero, and we expect that the intended incentives and regulatory framework will increase investor activity in that area".