Abstract

To have a >50% chance of limiting warming below 2 °C, most recent scenarios from integrated assessment models (IAMs) require large-scale deployment of negative emissions technologies (NETs). These are technologies that result in the net removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. We quantify potential global impacts of the different NETs on various factors (such as land, greenhouse gas emissions, water, albedo, nutrients and energy) to determine the biophysical limits to, and economic costs of, their widespread application. Resource implications vary between technologies and need to be satisfactorily addressed if NETs are to have a significant role in achieving climate goals.

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Acknowledgements

The views expressed herein are those of the authors, and do not represent those of a particular governmental agency or interagency body. This analysis was initiated at a Global Carbon Project meeting on NETs in Laxenburg, Austria, in April 2013 and contributes to the MaGNET program (http://www.cger.nies.go.jp/gcp/magnet.html). G.P.P. was supported by the Norwegian Research Council (236296). C.D.J. was supported by the Joint UK DECC/Defra Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme (GA01101). J.G.C. acknowledges support from the Australian Climate Change Science Program. E.Ka. and Y.Y. were supported by the ERTDF (S-10) from the Ministry of the Environment, Japan.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Institute of Biological & Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen, 23 St Machar Drive, Aberdeen, AB24 3UU, UK

    • Pete Smith
  2. University of California, Irvine, Department of Earth System Science, Irvine, California 92697-3100, USA

    • Steven J. Davis
  3. Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, Torgauer Street 12-15, 10829 Berlin, Germany

    • Felix Creutzig
    • , Sabine Fuss
    •  & Jan Minx
  4. Technical University Berlin, Straβe des 17, Junis 135, 10623 Berlin, Germany

    • Felix Creutzig
  5. Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), PO Box 60 12 03, 14412 Potsdam, Germany

    • Jan Minx
    •  & Elmar Kriegler
  6. Hertie School of Governance, Friedrichstrasse 180, 10117 Berlin, Germany

    • Jan Minx
  7. AgroParisTech, UMR1402 ECOSYS, F-78850 Thiverval-Grignon, France

    • Benoit Gabrielle
  8. National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), Environment and Arable Crops Research Unit, UMR1402 ECOSYS, F-78850 Thiverval-Grignon, France

    • Benoit Gabrielle
  9. The Institute of Applied Energy (IAE), Minato 105-0003, Tokyo, Japan

    • Etsushi Kato
  10. Department of Earth System Science, Woods Institute for the Environment and Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA

    • Robert B. Jackson
  11. NSW Department of Primary Industries, University of New England, Armidale NSW 2351, Australia

    • Annette Cowie
  12. Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development, Department of Environmental Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, 3584 CS, The Netherlands

    • Detlef P. van Vuuren
  13. PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, PO Box 303 3720, AH Bilthoven, The Netherlands

    • Detlef P. van Vuuren
  14. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich), Universitätstrasse 16, Zürich 8092, Switzerland

    • Joeri Rogelj
  15. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Schlossplatz 1, Laxenburg A-2361, Austria

    • Joeri Rogelj
    • , David McCollum
    • , Volker Krey
    • , Arnulf Grübler
    • , Matthias Jonas
    • , Florian Kraxner
    • , Nebojsa Nakicenovic
    • , Michael Obersteiner
    •  & Mathis Rogner
  16. Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement (LSCE), Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace (IPSL), CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, CEA l'Orme des Merisiers, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France

    • Philippe Ciais
    •  & Thomas Gasser
  17. Stanford University 473 Via Ortega, Stanford, California, 94305-2205, USA

    • Jennifer Milne
  18. Global Carbon Project, CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Research, GPO Box 3023, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601, Australia

    • Josep G. Canadell
  19. Center for International Climate and Environmental Research-Oslo (CICERO), Gaustadalléen 21, Oslo 0349, Norway

    • Glen Peters
    • , Robbie Andrew
    •  & Asbjørn Torvanger
  20. US Carbon Cycle Science Program, US Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC 20006, USA

    • Gyami Shrestha
  21. University of Exeter, North Park Road, Exeter EX4 4QF, UK

    • Pierre Friedlingstein
  22. Centre International de Recherche sur l'Environnement et le Développement (CIRED), CNRS-PontsParisTech-EHESS-AgroParisTech-CIRAD, Campus du Jardin Tropical, 45 bis avenue de la Belle Gabrielle, 94736 Nogent-sur-Marne Cedex, France

    • Thomas Gasser
  23. King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, PO Box 88550, Riyadh 11672, Saudi Arabia

    • Wolfgang K. Heidug
  24. Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, Devon EX1 3PB, UK

    • Chris D. Jones
    •  & Jason Lowe
  25. University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK

    • Emma Littleton
  26. Institute of Energy and Environment, University of Sao Paulo, Av. Prof. Luciano Gualberto, 1.289 – Cidade, Universitaria, São Paulo 05508-010, Brazil

    • José Roberto Moreira
  27. University of Maryland, 2101 Van Munching Hall, School of Public Policy, College Park, MD 20742, USA

    • Anand Patwardhan
  28. Carnegie Mellon University, Baker Hall 128A, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA

    • Ed Rubin
  29. Global Carbon Project — Tsukuba International Office, c/o NIES, 16-2 Onogawa, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8506, Japan

    • Ayyoob Sharifi
  30. National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), 16-2 Onogawa, Tsukuba 305-8506, Ibaraki, Japan

    • Yoshiki Yamagata
  31. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Joint Global Change Research Institute, 5825 University Research Court, Suite 3500, College Park, Maryland 20740, USA

    • Jae Edmonds
  32. Korea University, 5-ga, Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul 136-701, Korea

    • Cho Yongsung

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Contributions

P.S. led the writing of the paper, with contributions from all authors in the inception of the study and in writing the drafts. P.S. led the analysis with significant contributions from S.J.D., F.C., S.F., J.M., B.G., R.B.J., A.C., E.Kr., D.M. and D.V.V. Figures were conceptualized and produced by S.J.D., J.R., P.C., S.F., P.S., G.P., R.A. and J.M.

Competing interests

M.O. was given a share in Biorecro, a company that cooperates with BECCS projects globally, honouring his pioneering work on BECCS. The other authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Pete Smith.

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