This report from UK think tank Chatham House looks at the risks of policies forging ahead of the evidence.
Due to the slow pace of decarbonization, climate models are increasingly reliant on carbon removal technologies – such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) – to limit global warming and avoid catastrophe. BECCS has the potential to generate power and remove CO2 from the atmosphere, but the technology is largely unproven at commercial scale and there are significant risks, including impacts on land use and food production as well as additional emissions along wood pellet supply chains. While BECCS may have a valuable role in minimizing the impacts of climate change, real world applications suggest that its carbon capture efficiency may be less than the 90 per cent capture rate planned for in climate models. There is a clear need for policy action that not only minimizes the inherent risks of BECCS under delivering on negative emissions, especially as the technology is used more widely, but also reduces our reliance on BECCS to mitigate climate change.
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