CDR at COP

—Rick Wayman, CEO, F4CR

“Never use acronyms that people might not know.” That’s a motto I try to live by, but when I spell out the title of this post, maybe you’ll see why I did it that way:

Carbon Dioxide Removal at the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Last year’s COP26 was my first UN climate conference. I had only been with F4CR for a few weeks when the event took place in Glasgow in November 2021, so I came onto the scene with a fresh set of eyes and ears. I was a little concerned, to be honest, about the scarcity of events talking about carbon dioxide removal (CDR) in a positive way. As a significant pathway to achieving climate restoration, I saw that we had our work cut out to get CDR onto the agenda going forward.

To my surprise, the conversations happening at COP27 are something to behold, with a much more prominent focus on CDR. It’s clear that carbon dioxide removal is becoming increasingly recognized as a necessary component to complement emissions mitigation and climate adaptation efforts. Topics range from full-throated support for CDR solutions to cautious optimism that some solutions may be truly impactful at scale to calls for further research, development, and (eventually) deployment.

While some of the discussion around CDR relates to the declaration earlier this year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that we’ll need significant CDR to achieve the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, that’s not the full extent of the conversation. I’m hearing more and more discussion of CDR in the context of climate restoration and the goal of returning our world to 0 degrees of warming.

This trend is thanks in part to the significant growth in the coalition of NGOs, companies, investors, academics, and elected officials paying attention to CDR. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the “Carbon Removals at COP” coalition. The mission of this partnership is to introduce people “to what is happening in the world of carbon removals — the science, the technology, the people, places, motivations and approaches that are driving the evolution of carbon removals today and working to scale these innovations for a better future tomorrow.”

I’m incredibly proud that the Foundation for Climate Restoration is a partner in this initiative and that so many notable organizations joined together to highlight our common goals. In a world where travel has been minimized for both COVID safety and carbon emissions purposes, it has been enlightening and heartwarming to meet so many colleagues in person and begin to develop a new phase of trust and partnership.

A snapshot of the dozens of in-person and virtual CDR events listed on the CDR at COP website.

Over the next year, my vision is to continue the dramatic scaling up of events highlighting carbon dioxide removal. I’d love to see more events featuring young people, like our Youth Leaders for Climate Restoration and leaders from the Global South, including many F4CR local chapters.

Of course, what is not fully captured by the CDR at COP website is the sheer number of conversations people are having about CDR and climate restoration here at COP27. It’s vital that we continue on this path of bringing CDR and climate restoration forward to work at scale alongside emissions elimination and unavoidable climate adaptation. By the time COP28 rolls around next year in Dubai, I expect to see this much higher on many people’s agendas.

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Foundation for Climate Restoration

Foundation for Climate Restoration

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The Foundation for Climate Restoration (F4CR) is a nonprofit whose mission is to catalyze action to restore a safe and healthy climate by 2050.