Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Commentary
  • Published:

Betting on negative emissions

Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage could be used to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, its credibility as a climate change mitigation option is unproven and its widespread deployment in climate stabilization scenarios might become a dangerous distraction.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Carbon dioxide emission pathways until 2100 and the extent of net negative emissions and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) in 2100.
Figure 2

References

  1. Allen, M. R. et al. Nature 458, 1163–1166 (2009).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. IPCC Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis (eds Stocker, T. F. et al.) (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013).

  3. Friedlingstein, P. et al. Nature Geosci. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2248 (2014).

  4. Boden, T. A. et al. Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US Department of Energy, 2013).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Le Quéré, C. et al. Earth Syst. Sci. Data 6, 235–263 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Clarke, L. et al. in Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change (eds Edenhofer, O. et al.) Ch. 6 (Cambridge Univ. Press, in the press).

  7. Tavoni, M. & Socolow, R. Climatic Change 118, 1–14 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Raupach M. R. & Canadell, J. G. in The Continental-Scale Greenhouse Gas Balance of Europe (eds Dolman A. J. et al.) 5–32 (Springer, 2008).

    Book  Google Scholar 

  9. Jones, C. et al. J. Clim. 26, 4398–4413 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Davis, S. J., Caldeira, K. & Matthews, H. D. Science 29, 1330–1333 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Creutzig, F. et al. Glob. Change Biol. http://go.nature.com/F6JxKX (2014).

  12. Ciais, P. et al. in Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis (eds Stocker, T. F. et al.) Ch. 6 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013).

    Google Scholar 

  13. Scott, V., Gilfillan, S., Markusson, N., Chalmers, H. & Haszeldine, R. S. Nature Clim. Change 3, 105–111 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Fuss, S., Reuter, W-H., Szolgayova, J. & Obersteiner, M. Climatic Change 118, 73–87 (2013).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Kriegler, E., Edenhofer, O., Reuster, L., Luderer, G. & Klein, D. Climatic Change 118, 45–57 (2013).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Kraxner, F. et al. Rene 61, 102–108 (2014).

    Google Scholar 

  17. Kato, E. & Yamagata, Y. Earth's Future http://go.nature.com/nobafN (2014).

    Google Scholar 

  18. Popp, A. et al. Climatic Change 123, 495–509 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Global Energy Assessment — Toward a Sustainable Future Ch. 20, 1459–1526 (Cambridge Univ. Press and International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, 2012).

  20. Smith, P. et al. in Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change (eds Edenhofer, O. et al.) Ch. 11 (Cambridge Univ. Press, in the press).

  21. Cao, L. & Caldeira, K. Environ Res. Lett. 5, 024011 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Vichi, M., Navarra, A. & Fogli, P. G. Climatic Change 118, 105–118 (2013).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. Kravitz, B. et al. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 118, 8320–8332 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. IPCC Summary for Policymakers in Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis (eds Stocker, T. F. et al.) (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013).

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work is a collaborative effort under the MaGNET (Managing Global Negative Emissions Technologies) initiative of the Global Carbon Project (www.globalcarbonproject.org), a joint project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, the International Human Dimension Programme on Global Environmental Change, the World Climate Research Programme and Diversitas. J.G.C. thanks the support of the Australian Climate Change Science Program. C.D.J. was supported by the Joint UK Department of Energy & Climate Change and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme (GA01101). G.P.P. and R.M.A thank the support of the Norwegian Research Council (236296). Y.Y. and A.S. acknowledge that GCP Tsukuba office activities are supported by Center for Global Environmental Research, National Institute for Environmental Studies. F.K. acknowledges support from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis Tropical Flagship Initiative. M.T. acknowledges the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research and the Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea under the GEMINA project. C.L.Q. thanks the support of UK's Natural Environment Research Council (NE/103002X/1). R.B.J. acknowledges the US Department of Agriculture (AFRI #2012-00857).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

All authors contributed to the planning of the paper. S.F. led the work together with J.G.C. and prepared Fig. 2 including description of the framework benefiting from discussions with all authors. G.P.P., R.M.A. and M.T. prepared Fig. 1 and/or provided the associated analysis. All authors contributed to writing the Commentary, providing comments to the framework and input in terms of numbers and references backing the analysis.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sabine Fuss.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Fuss, S., Canadell, J., Peters, G. et al. Betting on negative emissions. Nature Clim Change 4, 850–853 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2392

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2392

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing