Parliamentary Breakfast

Greenhouse Gas Neutrality: Climate Protection, Residual Emissions and Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Removal

26 Nov 2019
10117 Berlin
Luisenstraße 19

How to achieve the substantial reduction of greenhouse gas emissions required to comply with the Paris Agreement? In a Parliamentary Breakfast, Jan Minx (head of the working group Applied Sustainability Science at MCC Berlin) and Oliver Geden (head of the research group EU/Europe at SWP) shared their professional expertise with members of parliament to discuss answers to this question. The event was held under the patronage of Sylvia Kotting-Uhl (chairwoman of the Committee on the Evironment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety). With approximately 14 MPs and specialized staff members attending, the event was rather small but offered space for in-depth discussion moderated by Arwen Colell (policy analyst with MCC).

Even the most optimistic scenarios for climate politics rely on carbon dioxide removal (CDR) from the atmosphere to achieve climate goals. At the same time, we are lacking sufficiently developed and scalable solutions. Contrasting the pathways of emissions reduction and the available technological and natural solutions for CDR suggests two immediate conclusions: Swift and ambitious climate change mitigation reduces the dependancy on CDR solutions which we do not yet have, including their considerable regulatory and societal challenges for implementation. Secondly, we must close the gap in innovations to ensure that solutions will be ready for implementation when climate targetts require their roll-out. In addition, the debate on CDR solutions shows that while the discourse will most likely normalize the requirement of CDR, its actual implementation will most likely be highly politicized. This does not only refer to negotiations on sectoral and regional differences regarding residual emissions, but also to financial issues. Who will be „allowed“ to emit, and who will pay for compensation in return? Also, societal issues beyond acceptance and acceptability must be considered, if climate goals for emissions reductions are not to cause social dismay.