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Assessing negative CO2 emissions potential at national level, constrained by the Paris temperature goals: case study of Ireland

McMullin, Barry orcid logoORCID: 0000-0002-5789-2068, Price, Paul R. orcid logoORCID: 0000-0002-7995-6712, O'Dochartaigh, Aideen, Jones, Mike, McGeever, Alwynne and Rice, Paul (2022) Assessing negative CO2 emissions potential at national level, constrained by the Paris temperature goals: case study of Ireland. In: 2nd International Conference on Negative CO2 Emissions, June 14-17, 2022, Göteborg (Gothenburg), Sweden.

Informed by scientific assessment of severe risks to human welfare, the parties to the Paris Agreement have committed to goals of limiting warming to well below 2°C over pre-industrial and pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C. For any given temperature goal, there is a corresponding limit on net cumulative CO2 emissions, termed the Global Carbon Dioxide Budget (GCB). Ideally, net CO2 emissions must cease (“global net-zero”) before reaching the GCB limit for the temperature goal; however, if overshoot of this limit arises, then net negative CO2 emissions (requiring gross Carbon Dioxide Removal or CDR) will be needed to return to the GCB level. Nonetheless, the prospect of deploying so-called negative emissions technologies (NETs) to achieve CDR carries a substantial moral hazard: such technologies vary greatly in maturity, and remain very uncertain in feasibility, scale and deployment timing. The Paris Agreement relies on voluntary, bottom-up, actions by the parties. An approach that could ensure the global GCB limit is respected would be for each Party to assess its claimed GCB “fair share” (National CO2 Quota or NCQ), and formulate national net CO2 mitigation pathways consistent with this assumed share, making explicit any putative role for CDR. The Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently funded a research project, IE-NETs, to provide a preliminary research basis to inform such an assessment for the specific case of Ireland. A prudent, minimally equitable, Paris-aligned CO2 quota for Ireland was estimated as a maximum of 400 MtCO2 from 2015. This relies on particular assumptions of prudence, equity and global mitigation of non-CO2 greenhouse gases. Projections indicate that this national quota may be exceeded by 2024, and could exceed an accumulated overshoot of 600 MtCO2 by 2050. Deployment of NETs might limit (and then reverse) such NCQ overshoot. Aggregate technical potential for accumulated CDR (up to 2100) was found to be approximately 600 MtCO2. The corresponding practical potential is likely to be substantially less. It is recommended that a prudent policy for NETs potential in Ireland is to limit CDR dependence to no more than 200 MtCO2. In any case, we recommend formal adoption of a nationally determined net cumulative CO2 quota (NCQ), with explicit limits on both the scale and duration of any NCQ overshoot. This could provide the basis for developing broad society-wide consensus on an equitable and prudential balance between immediate reductions in gross CO2 emissions and inter-generational commitment to future, sustained and large scale, CDR.
Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Event Type:Conference
Subjects:Business > Accounting
Business > Management
Engineering > Environmental engineering
DCU Faculties and Centres:DCU Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Engineering and Computing > School of Electronic Engineering
Funders:Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, Ireland) Research Programme 2014-2020, project award 2016-CCRP-MS.36 (IE-NETs), Climate Change Advisory Council (Ireland)
ID Code:27347
Deposited On:25 Jul 2022 10:12 by Barry Mcmullin . Last Modified 19 Feb 2024 12:37

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