Differences in CO2 certificates
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and requires drastic action to reduce emissions and remove CO2 from our atmosphere. In Europe, there are many innovative CO2 removal solutions that need to be scaled up to reverse global warming. To achieve this, a systemic approach is needed that includes technology, policy, and large-scale investment to create an effective market for CO2 removal. The EU carbon removal certification framework (EU CRCF) is the first of its kind and provides a unique opportunity to establish high-quality criteria, create standards for market growth, and promote environmental justice. In doing so, transparent disclosure of the type of allowance, be it CO2 avoidance (carbon avoidance), CO2 reduction (carbon reduction) or CO2 removal (carbon removal) becomes critical to restoring the reputation of CO2 allowances and promoting true CO2 sinks.
What is the benefit of CO2 offsets?
The goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 requires significant CO2 removal from the atmosphere to offset the remaining emissions. Although some of these solutions are still under development, there are promising technological and nature-based approaches to CO2 removal already available.
What is the difference of CO2 allowances in CO2 avoidance, CO2 reduction and CO2 removal?
Companies will need to use decarbonization pathways to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions year over year by 2050 by investing in sustainable production processes or in the supply chain, whether in imported heat or electricity generation. This will reduce their annual CO2 emissions. However, these reductions cannot be sold to other companies as CO2 allowances, as they are not actively removing CO2 from the atmosphere through their operations.
However, to get to net-zero emissions, technologies are needed to actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Companies that filter CO2 from the air, so-called DACCS technologies (Direct Air Capture and Carbon Storage), can sell CO2 certificates, as they remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere and store it for the long term.
When buying and distributing CO2 certificates, it is therefore important to check whether CO2 is merely avoided or actually captured.
Scaling up CO2 removal technologies
Global CO2 removal capacity is currently about two megatons (0.002 gigatons) per year, while scientists believe a capacity of 10 gigatons per year is needed by 2050. In 2021, 38 gigatons were emitted globally, showing the magnitude of the challenge in CO2 reduction, but also CO2 removal. This requires a systematic approach that includes technology, policy and large-scale investment.
* the circle of technological CO2 removal is barely visible compared to CO2 emissions now or demand in 2050.
What is the EU Certification Framework on CO2 allowances (EU CRCF)?
The EU Certification Framework on CO2 Removal is an important step towards creating a trustworthy and effective market for CO2 allowances. The proposed certification mechanism is the first of its kind and has the potential to establish high-quality criteria, create much-needed standards for the growth of the CO2 allowance market, and address many of the shortcomings that currently hinder its growth.
How can the quality of CO2 allowances be improved?
The EU CRCF needs to sharpen the definition of CO2 removal and clearly distinguish it from CO2 reduction. Criteria for high quality CO2 allowances (such as additionality, permanence and displacement) need to be strengthened. Environmental justice must be promoted, and a robust monitoring and reporting system must be established.
What is environmental justice?
Another important aspect to consider in the development of the EU certification framework is environmental justice. It is important to ensure that CO2 removal projects do not lead to undesirable impacts on local communities and ecosystems. The EU CRCF should therefore establish clear criteria to ensure that CO2 removal projects are consistent with the social, cultural, and environmental needs of affected communities.
Monitoring, reporting and verification
To ensure confidence in the carbon allowance market, it is important to have a robust monitoring, reporting and verification system. The EU CRCF should ensure that projects are regularly monitored and evaluated to ensure that they meet quality standards. In addition, monitoring and evaluation results should be publicly available to ensure full transparency.
Conclusion about the EU CRCF
The EU Carbon Capture Certification Framework is an important building block on the road to net zero consumption. It is important that the framework establishes clear criteria for CO2 removal to ensure that it is effective and trustworthy. The framework should also focus on encouraging innovation and scaling CO2 removal projects to close the gap between current supply and needed capacity. Finally, the framework should ensure that CO2 removal is consistent with the social, cultural, and environmental needs of affected communities.
We are confident that the EU CRCF will help improve the CO2 allowance market and move us closer to our goal of a CO2-neutral world.