Is Carbon Removal Delaying Emission Reductions?

Carton, Wim and Hougaard, Inge-Merete and Markusson, Nils and Friis Lund, Jens (2023) Is Carbon Removal Delaying Emission Reductions? Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change. ISSN 1757-7780

Text (20221223 - Is Carbon Removal Delaying Emission Reductions-revised-CLEAN)
20221223_Is_Carbon_Removal_Delaying_Emission_Reductions_revised_CLEAN.doc - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB)


Carbon dioxide removal is rapidly becoming a key focus in climate research and politics. This is raising concerns of "moral hazard” or “mitigation deterrence”, i.e. the risk that promises of and/or efforts to pursue carbon removal end up reducing or delaying near-term mitigation efforts. Some, however, contest this risk, arguing that it is overstated or lacking evidence. In this review, we explore the reasons behind the disagreement in the literature. We unpack the different ways in which moral hazard/mitigation deterrence (MH/MD) is conceptualised and examine how these conceptualizations inform assessments of MH/MD risks. We find that MH/MD is a commonly recognised feature of modelled mitigation pathways but that conclusions as to the real-world existence of MH/MD diverge on individualistic versus structural approaches to examining it. Individualistic approaches favour narrow conceptualizations of MH/MD, which tend to exclude the wider political economic contexts in which carbon removal emerges. This exclusion limits the value and relevance of such approaches. We argue for a broader understanding of what counts as evidence of delaying practices and propose a research agenda that complements theoretical accounts of MH/MD with empirical studies of the political economic structures that may drive mitigation deterrence dynamics.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
Uncontrolled Keywords:
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
05 Jan 2023 14:05
Last Modified:
03 Feb 2023 14:00