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What are negative emissions?

Most proposals to limit global temperature rises to well below 2° Celsius rely on ‘negative emissions’ – the removal of carbon from the atmosphere.

This can be done naturally, such as by protecting and restoring degraded forests so they become carbon sinks. Some also claim that it can be done through geo-engineering, for instance by burning bioenergy, capturing the carbon released, and pumping it into underground geological reservoirs. This is known as Bioenergy, Carbon, Capture and Storage (BECCS).

Fern believes there are three main risks in relying on geo-engineering projects:

  1. They are used as an excuse to keep burning fossil fuels despite unproven benefits
  2. They will have unacceptable ecological and social impacts if used at an industrial scale
  3. They cannot ensure stored carbon is not released through human or natural forces, including climate change

For more information see the outcomes of a meeting Fern hosted on negative emissions.

Most recent publications

Forestwatch Issue 46

  • EU must hold line on carbon sinks
  • Last chance for forest biodiversity as action plan nears completion
  • Dutch label to get green light
  • G8 tackle illegal logging
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Tree Trouble

A compilation of testimonies on the negative impact of large-scale tree plantations prepared for the sixth Conference of the Parties of the Framework Convention on Climate Change by Friends of the Earth International in co-operation with the World Rainforest Movement and FERN.
PDF iconOPEN200.44 KB

Forestwatch Issue 44

  • Amerindians ask the EU to respect its own policy
  • Carbon sinks emerge as hot potato
  • Major u-turn on UNFF talks
  • Progress at the CBD
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Mount Tamalpais Declaration

NGO statement of concern regarding role of tree plantations in the CDM
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Forestwatch Issue 43

  • Commission calls for aid shake up
  • Sami people tired of waiting for Swedish support
  • Development policy
  • Shared concerns of US and EU NGOs
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