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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

Why LULUCF cannot ensure that bioenergy reduces emissions

The European Commission is currently reviewing the sustainability of uses and sources of bioenergy for the period after 2020. They will also propose a new policy on how to include the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector in the EU’s 2030 climate and energy framework. This briefing note presents the problems of relying on LULUCF to ensure bioenergy reduces carbon emissions.

UK referendum must not derail EU climate policy

Brussels- based green NGOs, including Fern, have urged the European Commission to push on with its 2030 climate legislation - despite the uncertainty in the wake of the UK referendum result. 

Presentations from negative emissions seminar

This seminar held in May 2016 brought key scientists together with environmental, development and human rights NGOs to understand the Paris Agreement’s implications for forests and land use. A final report of the meeting gives an overview of discussions and presentations given.

MEP letter on a robust effort sharing decision

On 20 July, the European Commission will make its proposal on how to integrate emissions from land and forests (LULUCF) into the climate and energy package.

However, this has not stopped the Environment Committee in the European Parliament from already forming an opinion.

EU urged to ensure that 2030 Effort Sharing Decision is fit for purpose

As the ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement gets under way, a group of NGOs and businesses have issued an open letter calling on the EU to ensure that the 2030 Effort Sharing Decision, its main climate instrument, is fit for purpose

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PDF iconESD_letter486.51 KB

LULUCF: what would a good proposal look like?

As the ratification process for the Paris Climate Agreement begins, a new Fern briefing has shown how the EU’s new policy on land and forests could help it to be more ambitious on its climate change targets, and set a positive precedent globally by developing a separate pillar - with its own target - for the so-called LULUCF sector.

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PDF iconLULUCF1.18 MB

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