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Journal Article

Is carbon dioxide removal ‘mitigation of climate change’?


Honegger,  Matthias
IASS Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam;

Burns,  Wil
External Organizations;

Morrow,  David R.
External Organizations;

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Honegger, M., Burns, W., Morrow, D. R. (2021): Is carbon dioxide removal ‘mitigation of climate change’? - Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law, reel.12401.

Cite as: https://publications.iass-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_6001125
Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) is often characterized as separate from climate change mitigation. Discussion of CDR governance – despite enjoying growing interest – tends to overlook how key provisions on mitigation apply. Similarly, many climate policy processes have ignored CDR. CDR may have been discursively held separate from ‘mitigation’ due to a partial conceptual overlap with ‘geoengineering’. We unpack how the ‘mitigation of climate change’ – as defined in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement – includes CDR as defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We point to important implications and opportunities for strengthening governance by enhanced clarity regarding par- ties’ obligations, principled equitable distribution of removal efforts, prioritization of rapid emissions reductions and careful paths to long- term removals, and a need for considering sustainability and human rights issues in the pursuit of CDR.